EL PASO, Texas — Baseball’s minor league teams, including the El Paso Chihuahuas, will shift to regionalized six-game series with a common off day in an effort that cuts scheduled travel mileage by 28-56% and reduces expenses as Major League Baseball takes over running the minors.
It was announced Thursday that Triple-A teams are scheduled for 142 games each starting April 6 in the new Triple-A East League and April 8 in the Triple-A West, which includes the Chihuahuas.
The Chihuahuas are scheduled to open their 2021 season on the road on April 8 at Salt Lake (Los Angeles Angels). Opening Day at Southwest University Park in El Paso is scheduled to take place on April 22 versus the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers).
However, baseball officials have signaled that opening day is likely to be pushed back to May 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Seeing this schedule renews the excitement for everyone from fans to team members to front office and game day staff that baseball and the Chihuahuas will be back at Southwest University Park in 2021,” said MountainStar Sports Group Senior Vice President and Chihuahuas General Manager Brad Taylor. “All of us are thrilled to get back to what we love!”
The Triple-A east season is scheduled to end Sept. 19, while the Triple-A West will end Sept. 21.
The 2021 Chihuahuas season includes 72 road and 70 home games as part of their 142-game schedule that will run through Sept. 21. With just eight home games in April, the heart of the home season will be in May and June with 15 and 13 home contests, respectively. July will be the lightest month, with 10 home games, and August and September will see a total of 12 home games each. The team will play on Memorial Day (May 31), Father’s Day (June 20), Labor Day (September 6) and Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16).
The Triple-A East league will be off every Monday, while the Triple-A West which will be off each Wednesday. The Wednesday off day was requested by owners in the Triple-A West league because purchasing plane tickets is cheaper for those teams for Wednesday travel than for Sunday night or Monday.
Triple-A West teams will average 14,609 travel miles, down from 20,081 for the Pacific Coast League in 2019. Triple-A East teams will average 6,808 miles, down from 11,579 for the International League in 2019.
The Chihuahuas, in the Triple-A West, will be competing in the East Division. That division also includes the Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado Rockies), Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers), Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers), and Sugar Land Skeeters (Houston Astros).
There will be a Triple-A All-Star Game this year, but there has not been a decision on whether to have a postseason, and officials said it may not be held this year due to the pandemic.
While players with major league contracts started reporting Wednesday, most players with minor league deals won’t report until April 1.
Prospects from Triple-A are likely to spend April at alternate training camps, used for minor leaguers to stay in shape when the entire 2020 minor league season was wiped out because of the pandemic.
An expanded active roster limit will be set at 28 for Triple-A teams, up from 25 throughout the minors in 2019.
The complete 2021 Chihuahuas schedule is listed below. Game times will be announced at a later date and the club said the schedule is subject to change.