NEW YORK – The major league baseball schedule for 2011 features a midweek start in March, a midweek ending in September and the Chicago Cubs' first visit to Fenway Park in nearly 100 years.
The new-look grid is designed to meet commissioner Bud Selig's goal: to have the World Series over in October. Game 7 this year is set for Nov. 4.
Five openers are scheduled for Thursday, March 31, with games at Cincinnati, Washington, St. Louis, Kansas City and Yankee Stadium. One of them is expected to be moved up to the night of March 30.
Starting in 1999, the season had been slated to start on either a Sunday night or Monday afternoon — except for some special neutral-site trips.
The regular season is set to end on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with games such as Philadelphia-Atlanta, Colorado-San Francisco and Yankees-Tampa Bay. The last time a season finished on any day other than Sunday was 1990. This new way, the playoffs could begin in September.
The Cubs open interleague play on May 20 with a three-game series in Boston. The Cubs last played at Fenway Park in the 1918 World Series — they also played regular-season games at Fenway against the Boston Braves in 1914-15, STATS LLC said.
"Maybe it would be fun. It's good, no matter whether it's Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, and it's a new city for me. I've never been to Boston," Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano said before Tuesday night's game at St. Louis.
Interleague play began in 1997, and the only Cubs-Red Sox series since then was in 2005 at Wrigley Field.
After a weekend of interleague action in May, the rest of the AL vs. NL matchups will take place from June 17-July 3. The Yankees will visit Wrigley Field, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be at Target Field and St. Louis travels to Camden Yards.
The Florida Marlins will open their final season at Sun Life Stadium on April 1 against the New York Mets. The Marlins move into a new ballpark in 2012.
The Cardinals play at Dodger Stadium on April 15, which is Jackie Robinson Day throughout the majors.
The All-Star game is scheduled for July 12 in Arizona.