The 2014 MLB schedule has been released

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Major League Baseball  announced its 2014 regular season schedule today. As mentioned back in June, it will begin with an Opening Series — which the MLB press release did, indeed, capitalize — between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sydney, Australia on Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23.

The non-Australian Opening Night takes place on Sunday, March 30th.  The teams have not yet been announced. I’m guessing they’ll do so after the playoffs are over. The remaining fourteen Opening Day games will take place on Monday, March 31. The final scheduled day of the 2014 regular season will be Sunday, September 28.

Other notable dates: The Draft will take place on Thursday, June 5 and the All-Star Game will take place at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday, July 15. If you’re looking for your team’s individual schedule, please note that my sources tell me they will play 162 games, 81 of which will be at home. You didn’t hear that from me, though. Seriously, though: the individual teams’ websites are updating with 2014 schedules as we speak.

Now: Someone please forward this to the NFL so they can let us know if any of it interferes with their 2014 schedule. After all, it’ll be much easier for baseball to do the right thing and make way now than it will this time next year.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.