Some people have trouble spelling Manny Sanguillen’s name. Jerry May has no trouble. To May, Sanguillen spells challenge. Jerry’s status as the No. 1 Pirate catcher job was in jeopardy a few months ago. Larry Shepard kept telling people that May, a two-year regular, would have to beat out Sanguillen in spring training to retain the regular job,
“I knew that I had to fight for my job,” May said. “That’s why I took so much batting practice. Every time I had a chance, I was swinging a bat. If I couldn’t find a pitcher who would throw to me, I’d go to the iron-mike machine.” After two seasons of batting .235 and .203, May is currently batting .270, but is surprising everyone but leading baseball with 5 home runs in the early going. He hit only 3 in his last 243 games spanning the last two seasons. May has retained his status as No. 1 backstop.
This is May’s fourth full season with the Bucs and he is only a few months older than Sanguillen. Both are 25. Jerry welcomes Sanguillen’s presence because it will give him a chance to take a breather sometimes this summer. It wasn’t that way a year ago, and May wore down under the strain of catching every day. “May is No. 1,” said manager Shepard, “but he won’t work seven days a week. I hope to use Jerry five games a week, then Sanguillen also can get a chance. Maybe someday Sanguillen will be our No. 1 man, but not now. It has to be May. He is a solid defensive man, and we are looking forward to some long balls from him.”
It is Shepard’s theory that Harry Walker, ex-Buc manager, confused May as a hitter. “I have great respect for Walker as a batting instructor,” Shep said, “but I don’t agree with his theory on May. He wanted Jerry to try to punch the ball to right field. Jerry is a big man, he has power. He has to use it.” Buc coach Bill Virdon made some adjustments in May’s batting this spring.