Orioles open season here March 31 Royals will lead off six-game homestand to commence schedule; First AL East game May 8; Interleague slate ends before All-Star Game


The Orioles will open defense of their American League East title with a six-game homestand beginning March 31 against the Kansas City Royals, but they won't face their first division foe until they visit the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays on May 8, according to a preliminary schedule yet to be released by the club.

The schedule features the same number of two-game series that represented a significant complaint among players and management alike last season.

The Orioles will play nine two-game series on the road and 19 total, the same as last season. However, the interleague schedule has been condensed to before the All-Star break, when the Orioles play host to the Atlanta Braves (June 5-7), New York Mets (June 22-23) and Florida Marlins (June 30-July 2).

They travel to the Philadelphia Phillies (June 8-10), Mets (June 24-25) and Montreal Expos (June 26-28), according to the preliminary schedule, which does not yet include game times.

Catcher Chris Hoiles was disappointed to learn that the club would be subjected to the same number of two-game series as last season. Like other Orioles, he was hopeful that the league would find a way to reduce the total, perhaps by as much as nearly half.

"I thought it was very difficult," he said. "Flying into a city, sometimes you'd play a night game and then a day game, then you'd fly out. It was very hard, very tough, especially when you got to midseason and even later in the season. It really caught up to you.

"I don't know if there is a system that would eliminate quite a few of them. Right now, there's just way too many."

Hoiles approved of having the interleague games before the All-Star break, saying, "That'll work out good. I like that format."

Camden Yards fans will get their first glimpse of the Devil Rays on May 15-18. The club's longest homestand comes during a 10-game run Sept. 11-20. Its most brutal road stretch comes July 28-Aug. 16, when the Orioles play 16 of 18 away.

The most bizarre quirk occurs in May, when the Orioles travel without an off day from New York to Oakland and then to Seattle, where they conclude a bicoastal swing with a two-game series.

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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