Major League Baseball announces game times for the 2014 schedule

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Since the ESPN Sunday Night games were announced earlier today, you had to figure that the rest of the schedule — as far as game times — would fall in line later in the day. And they just fell in line. Among the details:

  • The opening series in Sydney, Australia between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers will take place on Saturday, March 22nd at 7pm Sydney time.  That means midnight in L.A. and Phoenix, 3AM back east. Which, yes, is inconvenient for some of us, but the point is to bring baseball to Australians, not satisfy people in Ohio, so there’s not a valid complaint there. Not that it will stop people from complaining. The Sunday game will be at 6pm Pacific and 9pm Eastern.
  • On Sunday, March 30th, the non-Australian portion of the season will begin with the San Diego Padres hosting the Dodgers at 8:05 Eastern, 5:05 Pacific.
  • Thirteen games will be played on traditional Opening Day on Monday, March 31st.  The first full slate of 15 games will be played on Wednesday, April 2nd.
  • The final day of the 2014 regular season, which features 12 divisional match-ups, is scheduled for Sunday, September 28th.

Go check your team’s schedule for all of the specific game times, as they should be loaded in there now.

Play ball. Eventually, anyway.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.