CHICAGO – No more bargaining sessions on the calendar. The lockout is over, and it's time for baseball again.
Here are some dates to remember for the upcoming season:
THURSDAY, APRIL 7
Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals: Cleveland plays its first regular-season game as the Guardians when Shane Bieber and company take on Whit Merrifield and the Royals. Cleveland, which formally changed its name from Indians following last season, is hoping Bieber can stay healthy after the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner missed much of last year with a strained right shoulder.
FRIDAY, APRIL 22
Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays: Wander Franco and the reigning AL East champion Rays take on Rafael Devers and the Red Sox in a rematch of their AL Division Series. Boston eliminated Tampa Bay in four games last year, and then lost to Houston in the ALCS. Devers anchors a deep lineup for the Red Sox, but left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez signed with Detroit in free agency. The talented Franco is surrounded by another loaded roster with the Rays.
TUESDAY, MAY 3
San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers: One of baseball's best rivalries starts all over again after a memorable 2021 season. San Francisco won 107 games and the NL West title last year, edging Los Angeles by one game, but the Dodgers eliminated the Giants with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their NL Division Series. Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger are back for LA, but Max Scherzer and Corey Seager departed in free agency. San Francisco lost Buster Poster when the veteran catcher retired in November.
THURSDAY, JUNE 16
Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners: Angels star Shohei Ohtani is coming off an epic 2021 season, winning the AL MVP award. But he remains in search of his first playoff appearance. Now Mike Trout is back after missing much of last year with a calf injury, and Noah Syndergaard joins Ohtani in the Angels' rotation after agreeing to a $21 million, one-year contract in November. The Mariners, looking for their first postseason appearance since 2001, signed AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray to a $115 million, five-year contract in November.
TUESDAY, JULY 19
All-Star Game in Los Angeles: The Midsummer Classic returns to Dodger Stadium for the first time since Ken Griffey and Bruce Sutter led the National League to a 4-2 victory in 1980. The Dodgers were slated to host the 2020 All-Star Game, but it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The American League has won eight in a row, including a 5-2 victory at Coors Field last year.
THURSDAY, AUG. 11
Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds: Baseball's acclaimed “Field of Dreams” game gets a sequel, once again at the site in eastern Iowa where the 1989 movie was filmed. Like most movies that get a sequel, it's going to be quite difficult to top the original. The Yankees and White Sox played one of baseball's best games of 2021 in the Hawkeye State, with the White Sox winning 9-8 on Tim Anderson's game-ending homer. This time, it's the Cubs taking on the Reds in an NL Central matchup.
FRIDAY, AUG. 19
Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves: Jose Altuve and the Astros visit Ozzie Albies and the Braves for a World Series rematch. Atlanta beat Houston in six games for its first championship since 1995. The return of Astros right-hander Justin Verlander and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. could help each team make another October run. Verlander, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, missed last season after he had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, 2020. Acuña slugged 24 homers for Atlanta before tearing the ACL in his right knee in July.
TUESDAY, AUG. 23
New York Mets at New York Yankees: It's the regular-season finale for the first Subway Series for Max Scherzer, who finalized a $130 million, three-year deal with the Mets on Dec. 2. The blockbuster contract for the three-time Cy Young Award winner was part of an offseason spending spree designed to return the Mets to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Aaron Judge and the Yankees lost to Boston in the AL Wild Card Game in October, and it has been 13 years since the Bronx Bombers won their last championship in 2009.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 7
Texas Rangers at Houston Astros: Looking to stop a streak of five consecutive losing seasons, the Rangers signed shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million over 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million over seven years) over the winter. Seager and company are chasing the Astros, who won the AL West in 2021 for the fourth time in five years. The Texas teams play 19 more times this season, concluding with this finale to a three-game set.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25
Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox: Tim Anderson and the White Sox won the AL Central last season for the franchise’s first division title since 2008, but they flopped in the playoffs and the division is much improved from a year ago. Detroit has an impressive young rotation, and it signed dynamic infielder Javier Báez to a $140 million, six-year contact on Dec. 1. Also worth watching: Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera begins the year just 13 hits shy of 3,000.
SUNDAY, OCT. 2
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina play what could be one of their final games with St. Louis. Wainwright and Molina begin the year ranked fourth all-time in regular-season games started by battery mates since 1908 with 304, within range of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan in the top spot at 324. The 40-year-old Wainwright went 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA in 32 starts last season, and the 39-year-old Molina hit .252 with 11 homers and 66 RBIs in 121 games.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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