ST. PETERSBURG -- Interleague Play will bring some games of interest to Tropicana Field in 2011, as revealed by the just-released Major League Baseball schedule for next season.
Included on the Rays' Interleague slate will be games with the Reds and Cardinals; both are teams that have historical ties to the Tampa Bay area.
For many years, the Reds and Cardinals conducted their Spring Training operations in Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg, respectively, with the Reds calling Tampa's Al Lopez Field home while the Cardinals trained at St. Petersburg's Al Lang Stadium.
Both teams also operated farm teams in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Thus, there should be more than a passing interest when the Rays host the Reds from June 27-29 followed by a three-game series against the Cardinals from July 1-3.
Eventually the Cardinals moved their Spring Training operations to Jupiter, Fla. And the Reds, after spending time in Plant City, Fla., and Sarasota, Fla., relocated to Goodyear, Ariz.
Opening Day games will take place on Thursday and Friday next season, with the Rays kicking off their season on Friday, April 1 against the Orioles, which means the team will open at home for a second consecutive season.
The three-game series with the Orioles will kick off a five-game homestand that also includes two games against the Angels.
Chicago and Boston are the destinations for the Rays' first road trip of the 2011 season with three games against the White Sox followed by three against the Red Sox.
Whenever the Yankees come to town there's always added excitement and they will once again play nine times at Tropicana Field in 2011. The first of those dates begins with a two-game homestand from May 16-17. Subsequent series at Tropicana Field against the Yankees will take place from July 18-21 -- which follows a three-game series at home against the Red Sox, and the Rays close the season at home against the Yankees from Sept. 26-28.
The Red Sox first travel to Tropicana Field on June 14-16, and they finish with a three-game set from Sept. 9-11.
Interleague play begins for the Rays on May 20 at Florida, where they will play the Marlins for three games.
The second phase begins on June 17 when the Rays host the Marlins for three games before traveling to Milwaukee and Houston for three-game sets from June 20 to June 26, then the Rays wrap up their games against the National League with the visits by the Reds and Cardinals.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.