MLB to open 2011 season earlier, avoid November finish

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major League Baseball has decided to start and end its 2011 season earlier in a bid to ensure the World Series concludes in October, according to details of its schedule released on Wednesday.

The 162-game regular season schedule will begin March 31 and conclude September 28, the earliest end to a regular season since 2003, following a recommendation from a special committee for on-field matters.

"The challenges of our scheduling are considerable, but I shared the committee's desire to make the necessary adjustments to assure that post-season baseball does not extend beyond October," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

The 2010 regular season began April 4 and is scheduled to end October 3. Playoffs are tentatively set to open on October 6 with up to three World Series games slated for November if it was to go a full seven games.

Among the regular-season matchups will be the first game between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox in Boston's Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. The teams meet May 20-22.

The 82nd All-Star Game will be played July 12 in Phoenix.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina. Editing by Frank Pingue)