ESPN will begin its 23rd Major League Baseball season with a full national telecast of Opening Night – the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals at the Miami Marlins – Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. ET. The telecast will mark the start of the 2012 MLB regular season and the grand opening of Marlins Park, the new home of the Miami Marlins. The game will also include the debut of Miami’s high profile offseason acquisitions – new manager Ozzie Guillen and All-Star Jose Reyes. Opening Night will be available on ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3, ESPN Mobile TV and via the WatchESPN app.
ESPN and ESPN2 will combine for five games over the first three days of the season. ESPN2 will televise the AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers hosting the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, April 5, at 1 p.m., followed by the Marlins visiting the Cincinnati Reds at 4 p.m. On Friday, April 6, ESPN2 will televise the NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks hosting the San Francisco Giants at 7 p.m.; followed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – featuring the AL debut of Albert Pujols – hosting the Kansas City Royals at 10 p.m.
Additionally, Red Sox/Tigers and Royals/Angels will be available via ESPN3 and Giants/Diamondbacks and Royals/Angels will be carried on ESPN Mobile TV. All four games will also be available via the WatchESPN app.
ESPN’s season-opening games will include several top MLB storylines:
St. Louis at Miami – Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
Ø grand opening of Marlins Park;
Ø Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell lead revitalized Marlins roster;
Ø debut of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen;
Ø Mike Matheny replaces Tony La Russa as Cardinals manager;
Ø new Cardinals lineup anchored by All-Star trio of Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and recently acquired Carlos Beltran.
Boston at Detroit – Thursday, April 5, at 1 p.m. on ESPN2
Ø AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and All-Star slugger Miguel Cabrera lead the AL Central Champion Tigers into the new season;
Ø Bobby Valentine takes the reigns as Red Sox manager;
Ø new closer Andrew Bailey joins the Sox and its star-studded roster including Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Miami at Cincinnati – Thursday, April 5, at 4 p.m. on ESPN2
Ø All-Star Joey Votto leads a Reds team poised to contend in the NL Central;
Ø Mat Latos joins Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo in the Reds rotation;
Ø Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton, armed with new teammates, strive to compete for the top spot in the NL East.
San Francisco at Arizona – Friday, April 6, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Ø NL West Champion Diamondbacks aim to repeat after a 94-win season;
Ø All-Star Justin Upton and 21-game winner Ian Kennedy lead a young, talented D-backs squad;
Ø Giants look to return to their 2010 World Championship form after a disappointing 2011 season.
Kansas City at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Friday, April 6, at 10 p.m. on ESPN2
Ø Albert Pujols makes his national debut with the Angels;
Ø C.J. Wilson joins Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in the Angels rotation;
Ø Royals try and sustain momentum from strong 2011 finish.
ESPN International will offer coverage of MLB’s season-opening games on ESPN networks serving Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Middle East, Israel, Africa, the Caribbean and on cruise ships within the territory.