Babe Ruth makes his first start of his professional career when he defeats the world champion Philadelphia Athletics, 6-2, in an exhibition game played in Wilmington, N.C. The 19 year-old Red Sox rookie left-hander had faced 29 batters in relief, allowing just six hits to earn a spot in manager Jack Dunn’s rotation.
1920 – In a spring training match between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Robins, a sweeping inside curve ball throw by Dodgers pitcher Jeff Pfeffer hits Chick Fewster, striking the Yankees’ shortstop behind the ear and flattening him. Fewster revives 10 minutes later but soon loses the ability to speak. Taken to the hospital with a skull fracture and a blood clot on his brain, Fewster will recover slowly and return to play in mid-season.
1934 – In New Orleans, Louisiana Mildred Didrickson (Babe Zaharias) pitches again, this time for the New Orleans Pelicans against a split squad of the Cleveland Indians. She throws two scoreless innings and lines out in her only plate appearance. In nearby Lafayette, manager Walter Johnson pitches for the other Cleveland squad against the minor league Kansas City Blues.
1966 – For the second straight day, fans at Fort Myers’ Terry Park are treated to a tie-breaking, game-winning 500-foot homer. Unfortunately, unlike yesterday’s Met-killing clout (courtesy of Roberto Clemente), today’s bomb benefits the visiting Washington Senators, thanks to their very large left fielder, Frank Howard.
The Phillies trade Bob Walk to the Braves for outfielder Gary Matthews. The team’s new center fielder will play outstanding defense along with three solid seasons at the plate for Philadelphia while Atlanta’s new right-hander will compile a 12-13 record with a 4.85 ERA during his three-year tenure with the club.
1989 – The Pittsburgh Pirates make one of their better trades in recent memory, acquiring shortstop Jay Bell from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for fellow shortstop Felix Fermin. Bell will serve as the Pirates’ starting shortstop for the next eight seasons, twice leading the National League in fielding percentage.
In a trade reflecting current baseball economics, the Atlanta Braves send right fielder David Justice and center fielder Marquis Grissom to the Cleveland Indians for center fielder Kenny Lofton and relief pitcher Alan Embree. Atlanta and Cleveland faced each other in the 1995 World Series. The swap of the two Gold Glove center fielders and the three-time All-Star Justice reduces the Braves’ payroll by an estimated $6.8 million. Both players have several years left on their contracts, while Lofton, considered the best leadoff hitter in major league baseball, is in the last year of his.
2008 – Opening Day in Major League Baseball is held in the Tokyo Dome. The game was put in doubt earlier in the month when the Red Sox planned to “strike” due to disagreements with MLB over payment for coaches who make the trip. Daisuke Matsuzaka battles control problems, walking five, and allows two runs in five innings in a homecoming of sorts. In the 6th inning, Manny Ramirez hits a two-run double off Joe Blanton to tie the score and Brandon Moss singles him in for the lead. Oakland retakes the lead, 4 – 3, entering the 9th. Moss then delivers more heroics with one out in the 9th, homering off A’s closer Huston Street to tie the score. Hideki Okajima tosses a scoreless bottom of the inning for the win. In the 10th, Ramirez hits a two-run, two-out double off Street for a 6 – 4 lead. Oakland scores once off Jonathan Papelbon in the 10th, but he hangs on for the save.
2010 – The Yankees release P Chad Gaudin, who was competing for the team’s fifth starter position, and, failing that, was expected to make the staff as a long reliever. Philip Hughes, who shined as a set-up man in 2009, is announced as the winner of the fifth starter competition, while Joba Chamberlain returns to the bullpen. Gaudin will sign a minor league deal with Oakland on March 28th but will be back with the Yanks before the end of the year.
Injuries are the story of the day as spring training nears its end. Phillies closer Brad Lidge is shut down with shoulder soreness and will begin the season on the disabled list, where his teammate, All-Star 2B Chase Utley has already claimed a spot. Blue Jays reliever Octavio Dotel has an injured hamstring and also appears headed for the DL, and young Padres ace Mat Latos has an inflamed bursa sack in his right shoulder and will miss his scheduled Opening Day start as a result.
The Brewers send OF Chris Dickerson to the Yankees in return for P Sergio Mitre, who is expected to take the place of the injured Zack Greinke in the Brewers’ rotation when the season begins. Dickerson serves as insurance for the Yanks, who are concerned over a rib injury to starting CF Curtis Granderson, but unfortunately, he will pull a muscle in his first game for his new team. Mitre’s departure means that three pitchers are now competing for the last two spots in the Yanks’ starting rotation – rookie Ivan Nova and veterans Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. They also sign veteran P Kevin Millwood to a minor league contract, as further insurance in case the trio fails to perform up to expectations, but his services will not be required as all three will pitch well.
2013 – The Brewers sign pitcher Kyle Lohse to a three-year contract worth $33 million. Coming off a great season for the Cardinals, Lohse was the last remaining unsigned free agent of the spring, as agent Scott Boras decided to take his client to the brink in the hope that a team desperate for pitching would make him an offer.
2006 – Jeff Bagwell announces he may undergo “last resort” surgery to remove bone spurs in his aching right shoulder in a final attempt to resume his playing career. Bagwell, the subject of much off-season speculation and a $15.6 million dollar insurance claim, will go on the disabled list. Two days later, the insurance claim is denied but the Astros say litigation is likely.