Rangers to open season at Houston Astros

Baseball realignment has led to a realignment of the Texas Rangers' 2013 season opener.

The Rangers and their new American League West rivals, the Houston Astros, will open their seasons and the major league season March 31 as part of an exclusive national broadcast on ESPN.

The only game that day, set for 7 p.m. at Minute Maid Park, takes the place of the original season opener on April 2. The teams will take April 1 off before finishing the three-game series April 2-3.

The idea of altering the schedule came together over the past month. The Astros expressed interest because it will be their first game in the AL, and the clubs were granted a waiver to the Basic Agreement mandate that teams receive a day off before the start of the regular season.

April 4 becomes the mandated off day for the Rangers ahead of their April 5 home opener against another AL West club, the Josh Hamilton-led Los Angeles Angels.

The spring schedule, which includes exhibition games in San Antonio on March 29-30, will not be affected by the new season opener.

The Rangers will be playing in an MLB lid-lifter for the third time in franchise history, joining the 2001 and 2003 clubs. This one, and two off days in the first week, will give the Rangers some flexibility with their starting rotation.

The No. 5 starter, projected to be Martin Perez, could be skipped out of the Angels series in favor of the Opening Day starter, likely to be Matt Harrison or Yu Darvish.

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