Major League Baseball will honour the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Opening Day.
Leading the memorial will be the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, who will have members of the Newtown, Conn. Police Department and Fire Services taking part in pre-game ceremonies, April 1.
"On Opening Day, we will reflect upon more important things and play the game to honour the community of Newtown," Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "Since the day of the tragedy, our hearts and thoughts have been with those who were affected.
“We hope that bringing the families of Newtown together at Yankee Stadium later in the summer will give the community an opportunity to create new memories and aid in the difficult process of moving forward.
"Months have passed, yet we are still trying to come to grips with this incomprehensible tragedy," added Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry. "As our teams look to face each other on Opening Day, we will stand united in support of the families affected as we remember and honour those who were lost."
A special ribbon has been designed for the players at the Yankees-Red Sox game to wear on their uniforms, and MLB commissioner Bud Selig has requested the rest of the league wear them too.
The Yankees organization has also invited 3,000 Newtown citizens to celebrate summer vacation by attending the Yankees game against the Baltimore Orioles on July 7.
THUMB DOWN FOR DODGERS' RAMIREZ
The World Baseball Classic has claimed another victim.
This time, it’s Los Angeles Dodgers standout shortstop Hanley Ramirez who jammed his right thumb while playing for the Dominican Republic in the WBC final against Puerto Rico Tuesday.
He was scheduled for an MRI in Arizona Wednesday.
Ramirez is expected to be out of the Dodgers’ lineup anywhere between two weeks and two months.
But that’s guesswork according to manager Don Mattingly.
“They’ve painted both pictures, and it’s a pretty big window,” Mattingly told reporters. “We’re guessing. They’re going from a guy coming out of a big game, to a guy who also stayed in the game and had a single. Until the MRI, we’re guessing. He could be feeling great, we don’t know. We’re concerned enough to get an MRI. He’s coming out of a game, a pretty big game — guys don’t want to come out of those.”
Third baseman Luis Cruz is expected to be shifted into the vacant shortstop position while Nick Punto, Jerry Hairston or Juan Uribe could get the call on the corner.
Ramirez is one of many high-profile players injured during the WBC. The New York Mets’ David Wright aggravated an oblique strain Thursday, and Mark Teixeira also suffered a strained right forearm even before the WBC started.
Ramirez, who started 2012 with the Miami Marlins, was traded to the Dodgers in July. The 29-year-old hit .257 with a .322 on-base percentage, as well as earning a .437 slugging percentage, with 24 home runs and 92 RBIs in 157 games.
GREINKE RETURNS TO MOUND
Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke didn’t feel any discomfort during a minor-league start on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz.
After missing more than two weeks with elbow inflammation, the 29-year-old worked four innings in his first outing since March 2.
"I wasn't worried about (my elbow) today,” Greinke told MLB.com. "My arm felt really good today, really strong.
“My pitches aren't 100% crisp yet, but I don't know if anyone in the locker room is yet. My command is not perfect, but it won't be during the season.”
Prior to Wednesday, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner had completed just five spring training innings.
"I guess it's kind of what I expected,” Greinke said. “My fastball was the best of everything. I threw sliders, curves, change and a cutter."
Greinke agreed to a six-year, $147 million deal with the Dodgers in December, the largest contract ever for a right-handed pitcher.
ASTROS HAND BALL TO NORRIS
The Houston Astros will make their American League debut against the Texas Rangers with Bud Norris on the mound March 31.
It will be Norris' first Opening Day assignment as the four-year veteran finished last season with a 7-13 record and a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts.
Norris got the nod over Lucas Harrell, who was 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts last year.