1st Independent arbitrator Shyam Das cuts Braves P John Rocker’s suspension from 28 days to 14 days. Rocker, who is allowed to report to spring training with the team, also has his fine cut.
4thThe Red Sox sign Cuban 1B Juan Diaz, who was declared a free agent after the Dodgers illegally signed him. At 270 pounds, he fits the mold of Red Sox first basemen, but he’ll appear in just 4 games.
8th The Braves announce that P John Smoltz will undergo elbow surgery to repair a torn medial collateral ligament. He will miss the entire season.
16th In a 3-team deal, the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, and Montreal Expos all exchanged first basemen. Toronto trades David Segui to Texas. The Rangers then send Lee Stevens to the Expos. Montreal then swaps Brad Fullmer to the Blue Jays.
Marlins pitcher A. J. Burnett ruptures a ligament in his right thumb during a fielding practice drill. He will be sidelined for 10-12 weeks.
18th The Mets trade P Jesse Orosco to the Cardinals for IF/OF Joe McEwing. The Mets had acquired the four-decade vet in December.
20th The new World Umpires Association agrees to consolidate all umpires as part of an interim agreement with the commissioner’s office. The umps will merge beginning with this season.
21st Padres OF Al Martin is arrested on charges that he exchanged punches with a woman who claimed to be his wife. Shawn Haggerty-Martin said the couple were married in Las Vegas two years ago. Martin said the couple had the ceremony, but that he didn’t think it was real. Haggerty-Martin contends that the outfielder is a bigamist.
23rd The Cardinals obtain All-star OF Jim Edmonds from the Angels in exchange for P Kent Bottenfield and 2B Adam Kennedy.
Yankees OF Tim Raines announces his retirement after 21 major league seasons.
The Cubs send busted-arm pitcher Rodney Myers to the Padres for Gary Matthews, Jr., whom they option to Iowa (AAA).
25th Boston pitcher Juan Pena is hit on the right wrist by a ball off the bat of the Reds Sean Casey during a spring training game. According to the Sox, he suffers a torn MCL in his right elbow and will be out of the ML.
27th The Blue Jays sign former Rookie of the Year OF Marty Cordova to a contract.
The White Sox obtain SS Jose Olmedo from the Indians for future considerations. Tomorrow, they option SS Mike Caruso to Charlotte.
28th The Phillies obtain 2B Mickey Morandini from the Expos for cash.
29th The Cubs open the major league season in the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, by defeating the Mets, 5-3, in the first big league game ever played outside of North America. Jon Lieber gets the victory and new ace Mike Hampton takes the loss. Shane Andrews hits the first HR of the new millennium. Mark Grace and Mike Piazza also homer.
The Astros and Phils swap lefty pitchers, with Houston getting Yorkis Perez and the Phils receiving Trever Miller.
Diamondbacks slugger Matt Williams breaks a bone in his right foot in the D’Backs last exhibition game in Tucson versus the Mariners when the All-star 3B fouls a Frankie Rodriguez pitch off his foot. Williams broke the same bone in 1995 and missed 68 games.
30th The Mets defeat the Cubs in the Tokyo Dome, 5-1, in 11 innings on Benny Agbayani’s pinch-hit grand slam to dead centre, off Danny Young, the first of four appearances before the reliever is demoted. Rey Ordoñez commits an error in the game, ending his major league record streak of 101 consecutive errorless games at SS. With a swipe of 2B, Rickey Henderson joins Ted Williams as the only players to steal a base in each of 4 decades.
The Rockies sign AL stolen base champ Brian Hunter to a contract.