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Rays to open at home for fifth straight year in 2014

Schedule also features Citrus Series in early June, Interleague games vs. NL Central

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will open their 2014 season at home. Later on, they'll welcome some seldom-seen visitors from the National League Central.

When Opening Day rolls around next March 31, the Blue Jays will travel from their spring home in Dunedin, Fla., and meet the Rays for a four-game series at Tropicana Field. Kicking off the season at home for the fifth straight year, Tampa Bay will continue its first homestand over the weekend against Texas.

The Rays will wrap up their home slate on Sept. 19-21 with a three-game series against the White Sox before once again finishing the year on the road, concluding a season-ending six-game road trip in Cleveland from Sept. 26-28. Just before that, the Rays will play three against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Among the other highlights of the Rays' 2014 schedule, released Tuesday, are their series against NL Central clubs. The Rays will head to Cincinnati on April 11-13 to face the Reds, part of a 10-day, nine-game road trip, then host the Pirates on June 23-25 and the Brewers on July 28-30.

Milwaukee's last series at The Trop came in 2005, while Pittsburgh hasn't journeyed to Tampa Bay since 2003.

Tampa Bay will take part in a home-and-home with St. Louis, meeting in St. Petersburg on June 10-11 then at Busch Stadium on July 22-23. The Rays have played only six games in St. Louis, and the Cardinals haven't visited Tropicana Field since May 16-18, 2008.

The Rays' annual home-and-home matchup with the Marlins, nicknamed the Citrus Series, will take place June 2-3 at Marlins Park and continue June 4-5 at The Trop.

Tampa Bay will wrap up its Interleague Play schedule against the Cubs on Aug. 8-10, when it travels to historic Wrigley Field for the first time since 2003.

Considering the Rays' tough trips to the Pacific Time Zone this season, it's worth noting that they will embark on a seven-game swing through Seattle and Anaheim from May 12-18. Tampa Bay's annual trip to Oakland, from Aug. 4-6, will kick off an 11-day, 10-game trip that also includes series in Chicago and Arlington.

Also of note: The Rays will host three home weekend series against the Red Sox and two more against the Yankees.

Tampa Bay's September schedule looks slightly more forgiving than this year's edition, if only because the Rays won't approach the finish line with 20 games in as many days. While the Rays wound up with only one off-day this September, they're slated to get three days of rest during the final month of next season.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Tampa Bay Rays