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Notes: 2008 home schedule released

Notes: 2008 home schedule released

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CHICAGO -- How's this for an Opening Day gala?

The New York Yankees will be the guests of honor as the Royals open the home portion of their 2008 schedule on Tuesday, April 8, at Kauffman Stadium.

Imagine: A jam-packed ballpark and an early dose of Yankees.

"I'd rather play them before they get hot anyway," pitcher Gil Meche said. "If there's any advantage, I'd rather play them at the beginning rather than right now."

The three-game series, April 8-10, with the Yankees was announced with the rest of the home schedule on Thursday.

"It seems like Aprils are tough for us," outfielder David DeJesus said. "Geez, they ain't scared to put us with some tough games right away. That's good, though, you want to play the best. That's for sure."

The first homestand also will include three weekend games against the Minnesota Twins from April 11-13.

The St. Louis Cardinals will make their annual visit on June 27, 28 and 29. Other Interleague rivals will be the Colorado Rockies, making their first Kansas City visit, and the San Francisco Giants.

The only holiday game on the Royals' home schedule is on Mother's Day, May 11, against the Baltimore Orioles.

The road portion of the schedule has not been released although the Detroit Tigers have announced their home opener will be against the Royals on March 31.

This will be the third time the Royals have had their home opener against the Yankees. The Royals won the previous two games.

In 1977, Paul Splittorff pitched nine innings, but reliever Mark Littell, who worked four shutout innings, got the victory as the Royals won, 5-4, in the 13th. Big John Mayberry singled to drive in little Freddy Patek with the game-winning run.

Reggie Jackson homered against Splittorff.

In 1984, Bud Black earned the win and Dan Quisenberry got the save as the Yankees fell, 4-2. Onix Concepcion homered for the Royals and Dave Winfield hit one for the Yankees.

At first for finale: Mike Sweeney was modeling a catcher's chest protector in the visiting clubhouse on Thursday.

He was spinning tales of his catching exploits and misadventures. It also was a not-so-subtle reminder of his kidding -- we think -- request that he be allowed to catch an inning in the final game of the season on Sunday.

Manager Buddy Bell walked by, shook his head and smiled.

"Oh, I put a smile on your handsome face!" Sweeney chirped.

Then he followed Bell down a hallway and shouted, "Hey, Buddy!" Bell turned, grinned and said, "No!"

Later, however, Bell said that Sweeney will play at first base on Sunday against the Indians. This might or might not be Sweeney's last game for the Royals.

If it is, Sweeney at least will go out with a glove on his hand, not as a DH.

Bell's last weekend: Although he's stepping down as manager, Bell is trying to keep his final weekend as skipper low-key.

"It's like any last three games of the season," he said on Thursday.

However, it'll be at home against the division-champion Indians, the team he left to join the Royals, and he's certain to be a focus of attention.

"I wouldn't trade this time for anything," he said of his three seasons in Kansas City.

Is he still positive his decision was the right one?

"It is," he said, chuckling, "but I'm just not quite as sure as I was. The closer I get to it, the more involved I know I'll want to be."

Bell will remain with the club as senior advisor to general manager Dayton Moore.

Last call for RSTN: The Royals Sports Television Network had its last telecast on Thursday night in Chicago. RSTN is being dissolved after five years and Fox Sports will take over next season.

Right fielder Mark Teahen taped a farewell spot that aired on Wednesday night.

"I think I said that growing up it was difficult because RS is a strange middle name, but it kind of came full circle when I made the team in Kansas City and realized that the network was named after me," he said.

RSTeahen. Get it?

Autograph session: The Royals' 16 Minor League players and pitchers of the year from this season will sign autographs on Friday from 5:15 to 6 p.m. CT at Gate B of Kauffman Stadium. Also participating will be top 2007 Draft choice Mike Moustakas.

After the signings, the player will participate with fans in a question-and-answer session.

Coming up: Left-hander C.C. Sabathia will start for the Indians and the Royals will start right-hander Kyle Davies at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

Royals Charities will hold the fourth annual coat drive from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. CT. Royals Wives will be collecting coats for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau at Gate B. Coats also will be collected at Gates A, C and D.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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