Here’s a switch: Major League Baseball released its 2014 schedule Tuesday and, for the first time in a decade, the Royals aren’t already fully focused on next year.
Not when they remain just four games out in the American League wild-card chase and, at 75-69, on track for their first winning season since 2003.
Even so, here are the 2014 highlights (game times will be announced later):
• The Royals open the season at Detroit, on March 31, for the fifth time in nine years. They opened in Detroit in 1980, 1982, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
• The home opener is April 4 against the Chicago White Sox. A six-game first homestand also includes three games against Tampa Bay.
• The rotating interleague schedule has the Royals, and other clubs in the AL Central Division, paired next season with clubs from the National League West.
That means three-game visits by the Los Angeles Dodgers (June 23-25) and San Francisco Giants (Aug. 8-10). The Royals will play four games against the Colorado Rockies; two at home (May 13-14), two on the road (Aug. 19-20).
The Royals will also play at San Diego (May 5-7) and Arizona (Aug. 5-7).
• The annual I-70 Series will again consist of four straight games: June 2-3 in St. Louis and June 4-5 at Kauffman Stadium.
• The Royals have four-game home series against the New York Yankees (June 6-9) and Boston Red Sox (Sept. 11-14).
• The schedule includes just two three-city trips: June 30-July 9 with three games each at Minnesota, Cleveland and Tampa Bay; Aug. 15-24 with four games at Minnesota, two at Colorado and three at Texas.
• The Royals close their home schedule Sept. 19-21 with a three-game series against the Tigers. That concludes a 10-game homestand, the longest of the season.
• The season, like this year, concludes with seven road games. The Royals play Sept. 22-24 at Cleveland and Sept. 25-28 at Chicago.