Bucs to open 2011 campaign in Windy City

Bucs to open 2011 campaign in Windy City

NEW YORK -- The Pirates' 2011 schedule -- highlighted by a season opener at Wrigley Field and a visit from the Red Sox in June -- was officially released on Tuesday evening.

As has been publicly discussed, Major League Baseball is beginning its season three days earlier in order to push up the start of the playoffs. Five season openers will take place on March 31, though the Pirates, like most clubs, will commence their season on Friday, April 1.

For the first time since 1985, the Pirates will open the season in Chicago, this time with a three-game set against the Cubs. The Pirates have a 10-8 record against the Cubs on Opening Day. That trip will be followed by three games in St. Louis before the Pirates begin the 81-game home portion of their schedule.

Pittsburgh's home opener will be played against the Rockies at 1:35 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 7. Colorado will play four games at PNC Park before Pittsburgh's opening homestand concludes with a three-game series against Milwaukee.

The Pirates' Interleague schedule includes visits from three American League teams. The Tigers (May 20-22), Orioles (June 20-22) and Red Sox (June 24-26) are all scheduled to play at PNC Park. Pittsburgh will travel to Cleveland (June 17-19) and Toronto (June 28-30) to complete their Interleague schedule.

The schedule includes a pair of three-city trips, beginning with a seven-day road trip through Milwaukee, Washington and Cincinnati in mid-May. A 10-game road swing from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4 will take the Pirates to St. Louis, Houston and Chicago.

Conversely, the Pirates will have three homestands of at least nine games, one each in June, August and September.

The Pirates will conclude the '11 season by playing 10 of their final 13 games on the road. The final series will be played in Milwaukee from Sept. 26-28.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.