As the 16 major league teams moved into the final week of spring training and set their course north, the Yankees, despite a puzzling—and surely temporary—ineptness at the plate, and the Indians, despite several major problems, seemed to remain the big teams of the American League. In the National, although the exhibition standings revealed those early-blooming Pirates still on top, the Braves were hot on their track. And what about the Dodgers? Well, maybe they were just resting their aging bones until winning ball games really became important.
Although every team had its last-minute problems, none loomed larger than the gaping hole at shortstop on the Philadelphia Phillies (see page 77). In an attempt to do something about it, the Phils finally quit talking and made a trade. To the Dodgers (who were looking for a reliable pinch-hitter), they sent steady old Elmer Valo, four lesser players and a bundle of cash for a 25-year-old Cuban named Chico Fernandez. Never able to make the Brooklyn lineup because of Pee Wee Reese, the slick-fielding Fernandez was almost certain to help shore up the porous Phillies.