INDIANS TRI CITY 1

Tri-City's Reinaldo Ilarraza dives safely across home plate as Spokane Indians catcher David Garcia reaches for the tag on Sept. 4, 2019 at Avista Stadium.

It’s been a long time coming, but Spokane Indians fans finally have a date to put on the calendar.

On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the 2021 Minor League Baseball schedule in full and the Spokane Indians – entering their first season as a High-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies – got the news just about the same time everyone else did.

The Indians – one of six former Northwest League teams to form the “High-A West” league – are scheduled to open the season at home on May 4 against the Eugene Emeralds, the start of a 120-game season featuring 60 home games at Avista Stadium.

The season runs through Sept. 19.

“I’ve been with the team for 20 years and it’s pretty exciting to see games in May,” team president Chris Duff said. “I’ve never seen a schedule with actual games in May in Spokane, so it’s pretty neat to see that extra column on the schedule this year.”

It’s expected starting in 2022 the season will run 132 games with 66 home dates and start in late April. The lower minor league seasons will be delayed this year due to minor league spring training beginning after the big leaguers break camp to reduce capacity at training facilities under COVID-19 protocols.

With the delayed start and extended regular season, there will be no playoffs this year across the minors.

The revamped schedule features weekly six-game series against a single team, accompanied by a regular off day on Mondays. Game times were not announced.

Duff thinks the change to six-game series will be beneficial for all involved.

“Besides the fact that gives us a nice rhythm, I think, from a fan perspective and media perspective and for us from an operational perspective, but Major League Baseball really took that tactic in 2021 in an attempt to lessen travel as much as possible and also lessen exposure for the players.”

The team hasn’t had conversations with Spokane Regional Health about when it can open the doors to Avista Stadium to spectators. With the region moving into Phase 2 last week, the Indians are hopeful it’s sooner rather than later.

“Now that we have a schedule, that’s the trigger,” Duff said. “Now we know a timeframe so we can really start to have those discussions. Up until today, we didn’t have that timeframe to even have those discussions.”

“You know, we want to be optimistic and I think even though we’re going to start the season with some form of limited capacity, it’s exciting because we feel like we’re reopening summer for the community,” team senior vice president Otto Klein said.

The Indians host Tri-City on July 4 and the regular-season home schedule concludes Sept. 5 against the Dust Devils. Spokane will finish the year on the road against Everett on Sept. 19.

The team is excited at the prospect of holding Fourth of July fireworks.

“That’s been a tradition here for a long time, so if we can help the community celebrate, absolutely,” Klein said. “That’s one of the first things that I always look for when the schedule opens, so I think that’ll be fun. We’ll make the most of it.”

The full schedule can be found at www.milb.com/spokane/schedule/2021-05.