The Yankees are leaving no stone unturned to make a deal for infield help. They picked up a good-glove, no-hit John Kennedy from the Dodgers. But the infield has too many hopeful, but untried, elements in the makeup. And the infield must be first-rate if the New Yorkers are to make a strong comeback to respectability.
Manager Ralph Houk had hoped to come out of spring training with a set club, but spring training injuries killed those plans. Tom Tresh was hurt in the second game and will start the season short of work. His injury also made it impossible for Houk to get his outfield of Tresh, Joe Pepitone and Bill Robinson operating as a unit.
Mickey Mantle’s conversation to first base was going along nicely until he suffered a slightly-pulled muscle sliding into second. It cost him needed work at his new position, but there appears to be no doubt that Mantle will open the season at first. Oddly enough, Mantle was the only infielder without an error this spring.
Shortstop, the prime spring problem, had been a series of defaults after the anticipation of a battle royal, Bobby Murcer’s Army induction, plus sore arms for Dick Howser and rookie Jerry Kenney, made Ruben Amaro the only man available as training closed. Amaro’s hitting had been a pleasant surprise, but his fielding was a disappointment. With a Yankee tradition of a good glove at short, the club went for Kennedy and he took over as soon as he arrived.
Kennedy was waived out of the National League. To obtain Kennedy, the Yankees sent outfielder-first baseman John Miller and pitcher Jack Cullen to Spokane, the Dodgers’ PCL farm, along with a parcel of cash. As a footnote to the deal, the Yanks optioned outfieler-infielder Roy White to Spokane.