Save these dates: MLB releases 2017 schedule

Season begins with 3 games on April 2; Braves open new park April 14

Save these dates: MLB releases 2017 schedule

After a fourth installment of the World Baseball Classic in March, the 2017 Major League Baseball regular season will arrive with three games on the first Sunday (April 2), 13 more Opening Day games on that Monday, and a calendar that includes the debut of a brand-new ballpark in Atlanta and the first MLB All-Star Week in the state of Florida.

MLB released its master 2017 regular-season schedule on Wednesday, starting with two divisional matchups: Giants at D-backs and Yankees at Rays in the first two of those Sunday openers (game times to be determined). ESPN will televise both games in addition to its annual "Sunday Night Baseball" Opening Night game, which will be selected in coming weeks.

Opening Day will feature nine divisional matchups among the 13 games, in addition to an Interleague contest between the host Red Sox -- starting the post-David Ortiz era -- and the Pirates in a renewal of the franchises that met in the inaugural World Series in 1903. Cincinnati will have its traditional place among those 13 Monday games, with the annual Findlay Market Parade followed by Phillies vs. Reds at Great American Ball Park.

2017 Major League Baseball schedule

Seven games are scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, before all 30 clubs take the field on that Wednesday in the first full slate of games.

The final day of the 2017 regular season, featuring 12 divisional games, is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 1.

Jackie Robinson Day will be on Saturday, April 15, and it will mark the 70th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier, plus the 20th anniversary of MLB retiring his No. 42 throughout the Majors. Other important dates include the first day of the 2017 MLB Draft on Monday, June 12, and the 88th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami.

The Braves will play their inaugural game at SunTrust Park on April 14 against San Diego. There will be a preview of that 41,000-seat stadium on March 31, when the Braves host the Yankees in the final game of their Spring Training schedules. It will be the first MLB ballpark opening since Marlins Park in 2012, and it will mean that five of the past eight new ballparks are in the National League East.

For the first time since 2011, a single-admission doubleheader has been scheduled prior to the start of a season. The A's and Rays are to play a twin bill on Saturday, June 10, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

"Many of us in the Rays organization have fond memories of single-gate doubleheaders, so this is something that we have long wanted to do," said Rays President Brian Auld. "The schedule lines up for it nicely next season and we're going to work hard to make it a special day at Tropicana Field."

The Royals' two-game series at AT&T Park (June 13-14) will mark the first time Kansas City will play there since Game 5 of the 2014 World Series.

Chicago fans will see a couple of schedule novelties right away. The White Sox open the season against Detroit for the first time since 1963 and first at home since 1958. The Cubs will play their Wrigley Field opener against the Dodgers for the first time since 1963.

The longest road trip of the year in MLB is the Mariners' four-city, 12-game journey to Tampa Bay (Aug. 18-20), Atlanta (Aug. 21-23), Yankee Stadium (Aug. 25-27) and Baltimore (Aug. 28-30).

For the 20th anniversary of Interleague Play, the core Interleague rotation in 2017 will feature the American League East vs. NL Central, AL Central vs. NL West and AL West vs. NL East. That means fun matchups like June 13-15 in Cleveland, with bright young shortstops Corey Seager of the Dodgers and Francisco Lindor of the Indians on the same field, and Aug. 15-16 in Washington, with Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals going at it.

The Cubs will open on the road for the 12th time in the past 16 seasons, and this one will have fireworks, because it is against the rival Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Those teams are scheduled to play that Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

As for the famed Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, New York is at Fenway in April, again immediately after the All-Star break, and for the last time in August; the Red Sox will be at Yankee Stadium in June, August and right before Labor Day.

Anniversaries in 2017 will include: Reggie Jackson's three homers in three swings of Game 6 to lead the 1977 Yankees to the first of consecutive World Series triumphs over the Dodgers; the Rockies' lone World Series appearance 10 years ago; the Marlins' first title 20 years ago as the NL Wild Card team that shocked the Indians in seven in the Fall Classic; Carl Yastrzemski's 1967 Triple Crown but a seven-game defeat for Boston against "El Birdos" of St. Louis; the 60th anniversary of the last year in New York for the Dodgers and Giants before heading West; and the 1927 Yankees, generally regarded as the greatest team in history.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.