- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 22, 2001

With spring training approaching and the prospects of contraction all but quashed for next season, Major League Baseball unveiled its 2002 schedule yesterday one that features new divisional matchups for interleague play.

For the Baltimore Orioles, that means a trip next summer to the home of the World Series defending champions and to one of the new crown jewels of ballparks, plus the first Camden Yards appearance of one of baseball's most storied franchises.

The Orioles, coming off their fourth straight fourth-place finish in the American League East, will open the season at home against the defending AL champion New York Yankees on April1 at 3:05p.m. They'll also finish the season against the Yankees at Camden Yards on Sept.29.

After four years of interleague games between teams from common geographic divisions (East versus East, Central versus Central and West versus West), baseball will rotate matchups next season, similar to the format used by the NFL for decades. The Orioles and other teams from the AL East will face teams from the National League West. The AL Central will meet the NL East, and the AL West will compete against the NL Central.

Thus the Orioles will make their first trips to Bank One Ballpark, home of the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks, on June 18-20 and sparkling Pac Bell Park (home of Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants) on June21-23. The change in interleague format will bring the Los Angeles Dodgers (June7-9) and San Diego Padres (June10-12) to Camden Yards.

All 30 teams will continue to play a home-and-home series with one geographic interleague opponent, with Baltimore meeting Philadelphia on June14-16 at Veterans Stadium and June28-30 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles open their season with a nine-game homestand against the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays before traveling to Chicago on April12.

Though commissioner Bud Selig insists he still has plans to contract two teams widely believed to be the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos in time for next season, baseball needed to release its 2002 schedule now to give teams ample time to set up season ticket packages.

Baseball noted that the schedules released yesterday are tentative and subject to change. As it stands, the Orioles face the Twins Aug.6-8 at home and Aug.13-15 on the road.

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