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D-backs' trip Down Under highlights '14 schedule

Arizona opens next season against Los Angeles at Sydney Cricket Ground

LOS ANGELES -- The D-backs will make history when they open the 2014 season with a pair of regular-season games in Sydney, Australia, against the Dodgers.

The games on March 22 and 23, which will be played at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground, will be the first Major League regular-season games played in Australia.

The D-backs and Dodgers will have the spotlight all to themselves, as the rest of baseball will still be playing Spring Training games.

"Last time I was there was 1985 on my honeymoon, so it will be on a little different terms this time," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Hopefully we'll get in a couple of good baseball games that the people there will enjoy. It's exciting and it will be cool to go back there. It's a neat country, it really is."

In a sense, the D-backs will have two Opening Days next year.

The D-backs will return to Arizona following the two games and finish up its Cactus League schedule before resuming regular-season play with a March 31 game against the Giants at Chase Field. After the four-game series with San Francisco, the D-backs head to Denver and San Francisco.

Both of the games in Sydney will be considered home games for the D-backs, so they will play just 79 games at Chase Field in 2014. Giving up a pair of home games was a tough thing to do, but the D-backs felt it was worth it given the opportunity to play internationally.

"I think Major League Baseball is aware of our willingness to help spread baseball's goodwill globally," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall. "We like having an international presence and we like to spread our brand with whatever opportunity we have. So when Major League Baseball approached us and asked if we were willing to open in Australia, we were naturally ecstatic about it."

The always-intense D-backs-Dodgers rivalry gets underway in April with six games, including a weekend series at Chase Field from April 11-13.

The D-backs also host the Dodgers from May 16-18.

In Interleague Play, the Astros (June 9-10), Indians (June 24-25), Tigers (July 21-23) and Royals (Aug. 5-7) will visit Chase Field.

Interleague road games include visits to the White Sox (May 9-11), the Astros (June 11-12), the Indians (Aug. 12-14) and the Twins (Sept. 22-24).

It will be the D-backs' first visit to Minnesota's Target Field, which opened in 2010.

The D-backs close out the 2014 season with a three-game series against the Cardinals at Chase Field. The D-backs opened this season at home against St. Louis.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
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