BIG GAMES March 24: Indians vs. BravesWhen these teams last met, Cleveland second baseman Carlos Baerga flied out to Marquis Grissom to give Atlanta the world championship. The stakes are lower this time, but the rematch, in West Palm Beach, Fla., is still the highlight of the Grapefruit League season.March 31: White Sox at Mariners Opening Day, and for the first time in history it occurs in March. Defending AL West champion Seattle is expected to send the Big Unit (a.k.a. Randy Johnson, the '95 Cy Young winner) against Chicago's Big Hurt (slugger Frank Thomas).MILESTONES April 1: Tigers at Twins St. Paul native Paul Molitor makes his debut with Minnesota after spending 18 seasons with the Brewers and Blue Jays. The Twins are glad to have the free-agent signee: Against them over his career, Molitor hit .303 with 16 homers and 93 RBIs.Cardinals at Mets The Tony La Russa era begins in St. Louis. In 9 1/2 seasons as manager in Oakland, La Russa won four AL West titles. His new team should recognize him, as former A's Dennis Eckersley, Mike Gallego, Rick Honeycutt and Todd Stottlemyre became Cards during the off-season.BIG GAMES April 1: Rockies at Phillies The senior circuit kicks off its 121st season with a matchup of teams that appear to be heading in opposite directions. Colorado was last season's NL wild-card team, while Philadelphia finished 21 games back in the East after winning the pennant in '93.April 18: Giants at Cubs For the better part of 10 years, until 1994, it was Ryne Sandberg at second and Shawon Dunston at short for Chicago. Now the two are reunited on the same field, just not on the same team: Sandberg comes back to the Cubs after a year and a half in retirement, while Dunston returns to Wrigley after signing with San Francisco as a free agent.MILESTONES May 18: Mets at Giants San Francisco's Barry Bonds enters '96 with 292 career home runs. At that pace (one in every 4.88 games), he would be in position this day to hit his 300th career dinger, against New York.May 24: Yankees at Mariners New York third baseman Wade Boggs is on pace to hit the 500th double of his career today. He would be the 33rd player to reach that mark.May 27: Braves at Cubs With his career average of one home run every 4.47 games, Atlanta's Fred McGriff figures to hit his 300th career home run on this day in the Friendly Confines.BIG GAMES June 8:Athletics at Twins (2) The one and only scheduled doubleheader in the major leagues this season takes place on the carpet, under the roof of the hermetically sealed Metrodome. Not exactly what Ernie Banks had in mind.ANNIVERSARY June 9: Cardinals at Giants Entering the 1996 season, Giants manager Dusty Baker has been tossed out of just four games in three years. On this day 50 years ago, San Francisco manager Mel Ott was ejected twice in one day, getting the heave-ho in both ends of a twin bill against the Pirates. The Giants were so dreadful in 1946 that they were the inspiration for Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher when he uttered the phrase now known to history as "Nice guys finish last."BIG GAMES July 1: Orioles at Blue Jays Baltimore's Roberto Alomar returns to the SkyDome. The All-Star second baseman was with Toronto for five years and two World Series before signing with the O's in January.July 9: All-Star Game Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia is the location of the 67th convergence of the greats of the game. The last time the midsummer classic was held in the City of Brotherly Love was in 1976, when the Cincinnati Reds' George Foster and the Houston Astros' Cesar Cedeno hit two-run homers to lead the National League to a 7-1 win.July 10: Triple A All-Star Game With the big leaguers still on their summer break, the stars of tomorrow take the field in Salt Lake City.ANNIVERSARY July 17: Yankees at Red Sox On this date in 1941, New York centerfielder Joe DiMaggio went 0 for 3 against the Indians--the first time in more than two months that the Yankee Clipper had gone hitless. During his 56-game streak DiMaggio hit .408 with 55 RBIs. On July 18 he started another streak that would last 16 games.BIG GAME Aug. 2:Olympic Gold Medal Game Last year the World Series was won at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. This year the world series will be won there.MILESTONE Aug. 4 The ceremonies at the 57th Hall of Fame weekendfigure to be brief because, for the first time in 25 years, the baseball writers failed to elect any recently retired major leaguers. Phil Niekro, Tony Perez and Don Sutton were the ones who just missed.ANNIVERSARY Aug. 5: Pirates at Phillies Pittsburghers can hear this game on KDKA, 1020 on their AM dial, just where they could listen to the first broadcast of a major league game 75 years ago this day--an 8-5 Pirates win over the Phillies.MILESTONE Aug. 18: Tigers at Indians Cleveland's Eddie Murray, who has hit 15 or more homers in each of his 19 seasons, enters 1996 as the big leagues' active home run leader, with 479. If he stays on pace, Murray will tag some Detroit pitcher, a trivia-answer-to-be, for his 500th homer.MILESTONE Sept. 11: Angels at Indians Cleveland's Dennis Martinez, a native of Nicaragua, enters 1996 just 12 wins shy of Juan Marichal's record for career victories by a Latin American (243). If he should stay on the pace he has set over his 20-year career, el Presidente will pass Marichal with a win over California.MILESTONE Sept. 15: Brewers at Rangers In 27 seasons Nolan Ryan struck out 5,714 batters and threw seven no-hitters. Today his last team, the Texas Rangers, retires his number, 34, making Ryan the first Ranger to be so honored.ANNIVERSARY Sept. 30 The Washington Senators forfeited to the Yankees on this date in 1971, when fans overran the field. Days earlier the team had received permission to move. Its new home: Arlington, Texas.ANNIVERSARY Oct. 8 On this date in '56, the Yankees beat Brooklyn 2-0 as Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.BIG GAME Oct. 19: World Series 1996, Game 1 Interleague play at its best: The 92nd edition of the Fall Classic begins at the home of the American League champ.