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  Braves starter Greg Maddux warms up in Florida. (AP Photo)

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February: Pitchers and catchers report
The month of February started out on a quiet note for Major League Baseball. As always, pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training, while the position players followed a few days later. Here's a day-by-day look at February's highlights:
Team Stories & Headlines

By Bill Ladson /

February 3
In a step to ensure the team's long-term success, the Phillies signed Pat Burrell to a six-year extension worth $50 million. Burrell, then 26, was coming off a season in which he hit .282 with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs.

February 6
Outfielder/designated hitter David Justice announced his retirement after playing 14 years in the big leagues. He played for four teams, including the Braves and Yankees, and hit .279 with 305 home runs and 1,017 RBIs. Justice helped the Braves and Yankees win the world championship in 1996 and 2000, respectively.

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February 8

The Legacy Awards were handed out in Kansas City, Mo. In attendance was Braves general manager John Schuerholz, who won the Andrew "Rube" Foster Award, presented to the National League and American League Executives of the Year. Braves closer John Smoltz and Twins closer Eddie Guardado were also at the ceremony. They received the Hilton Smith Award as the NL and AL Relievers of the Year, respectively.

February 12
Former Red Sox player, general manager and co-owner Haywood Sullivan passed away in Fort Myers, Fla., following a stroke. He was 72 years old. Sullivan was the only person in Red Sox history to hold all three titles.

February 13
Pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training. The Expos, for one, made Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., their new spring home that day.

February 14

After a one-year hiatus, right-hander David Cone signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets. It was Cone's second tenure with the team. From 1987 to 1992, he was one of the aces on the pitching staff and helped them win a division title in 1988. That year, he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA.
February 15

The Red Sox acquired outfielder/first baseman Kevin Millar by giving the Marlins $1.5 million. The announcement was made after Major League Baseball announced that Millar had been freed of the two-year, $6.2 million contract he agreed to with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League.

February 16
Orioles prospect Steve Bechler collapsed on the practice field and was taken to an area hospital, where he passed away the following day of multi-system organ failure. Ten days later, the medical examiner said he was "almost certain" that ephedrine played a role in the pitcher's death.

February 17
Braves right-handed pitcher Greg Maddux avoided arbitration by signing the largest one-year contract in baseball history, a $14.75 million deal.

February 19
Three days after Bechler passed away, Orioles right-hander Jason Johnson was helped off the field after having a hypoglycemic reaction. Johnson, who had been a diabetic when he was 11 years old, later walked on his own power and did not go to the hospital.

February 24
Kirk McCaskill and Joe Carter were elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. McCaskill, who is best known for his years with the California Angels, won 106 games and helped the Angels win a division title in 1986. That season, he went 17-10 with a 3.36 ERA. Carter helped the Blue Jays win two world championships in 1992 and '93. Carter is best remembered for hitting the World Series clinching home run against Phillies reliever Mitch Williams on Game 6 of the '93 World Series.

February 26

Ron Santo was left out again in what seems like his endless bid to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. The former Chicago Cubs third baseman received 46 votes, or 56.8 percent, from the revamped Veterans Committee. He needed 75 percent of the 81 ballots cast.

February 27
The exhibition games began. New Phillies first baseman Jim Thome highlighted the day by hitting a home run in his first at-bat off Pirates right-hander Jeff D'Amico.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.