BRADENTON -- The Pittsburgh Pirates begin their 44th spring training in Bradenton with a Black and Gold intrasquad game 1:05 p.m. Friday, March 2, at McKechnie Field, the first of 16 games to be played at the venerable ballpark this spring.
The Pirates open their Grapefruit League schedule March 3 in Dunedin to play the Toronto Blue Jays, and meet the Blue Jays again March 4 in their Grapefruit League home-opener.
All games start at 1:05 p.m. with the exception of the March 26 game against Baltimore, which begins at 7:05 p.m.
The Pirates will play seven home games against playoff teams, including three with the Tampa Bay Rays (March 17, March 22 and March 20) and two against the Philadelphia Phillies (March 12 and March 16).
The New York Yankees come to Bradenton on March 6, and the Detroit Tigers will be there March 23.
The Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and the Orioles, the latter of whom play their home games at nearby Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, will also make trips to McKechnie.
The Pirates set an attendance record at McKechnie last spring, drawing 88,003 fans and averaging a record 5,500 in 16 home games.
One team not on the schedule is State College of Florida, which has played the Pirates 12 times in an annual charity game and defeated them in 2010.
“It doesn’t fit on the schedule as of now,” said Trevor Gooby, the Pirates director of Florida operations. “We are still working on trying to do something.”
Portions of the proceeds from the Black and Gold Game, which is included in the Pirates’ spring season-ticket package, will go toward the Manatee Education Foundation.