The 2017 season of American Association baseball begins on Thursday night with five games across the Association, highlighted by the defending league champion Winnipeg Goldeyes taking on the Cleburne Railroaders in the inaugural game at The Depot at Cleburne Station. In the 7:06 p.m. Central time game, the Goldeyes will start RHP Mikey O’Brien (10-4, 4.34 with Winnipeg in 2016) against Cleburne RHP Jorge Martinez (10-5, 3.16 with the Mexican League and York (Atlantic League) in 2016).
Also on the Thursday docket, the St. Paul Saints begin their third season at CHS Field with a home matchup against the Gary SouthShore RailCats. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. St. Paul RHP Mark Hamburger (12-6, 3.29 with St. Paul in 2016) opposing Gary SouthShore RHP Charle Rosario (11-4, 3.12 with Gary SouthShore in 2016).
The Siouxland rivals will meet to begin the 2017 season on Thursday, with Sioux City Explorers welcoming the Sioux Falls Canaries for a 7:05 p.m. start. RHP James Needy (DNP in 2016) starts for the Explorers against Canaries LHP Joe Bircher (6-6, 2.54 with Sioux Falls in 2016).
Nearby to the Winnipeg/Cleburne contest, the Texas AirHogs open their home schedule against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at 7:05 p.m. Seven-year Major League veteran LHP James Russell (3-5, 4.29 with Lehigh Valley (AAA-Philadelphia) in 2016) starts for the AirHogs. He will oppose LHP Tyler Alexander, coming off a strong 12-5, 3.45 season for the RedHawks in 2016.
In Wichita, Kan., the Wichita Winguts will be the first American Association team to face the Salina Stockade, the Pecos League club serving as a league travel team for 2017. At 7:05 p.m. at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, RHP Alex Boshers (12-3, 3.29 with Wichita in 2016) takes the bump for the Wingnuts.
The final two teams to open their season will be the Lincoln Saltdogs and Kansas City T-Bones, who play Friday at 7:05 p.m. at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City. RHP Calvin Drummond (1-4, 3.34 with the Detroit Tigers’ Class A-Advanced and AA affiliates in 2016) starts for Kansas City against Lincoln RHP Bennett Parry (1-0, 3.24 with Lincoln in 2016).
As has been the case in years past, fans can watch all games live and for free at www.americanassociationbaseball.tv.