First pitches

It’s spring. The sports schedule says so.
The 2012 baseball season – which started last week in Japan – began in earnest Wednesday with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals playing in Miami. The rest of the league gets going Thursday and Friday.
The Nationals open their season in Chicago, meeting the Cubs Thursday at 2 p.m. on MASN. The series continues Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The Orioles host Minnesota for their season opening series, starting Friday at 3 p.m. on MASN. They play Saturday at 7 p.m., then Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on MASN2.
ESPN2 has a doubleheader Thursday – Boston at Detroit at 1 p.m. followed by Marlins-Reds – and two more games Friday. The Giants take on Arizona at 7 p.m. before the Royals meet the Angels.
Fox has its first Saturday baseball lineup at 4 p.m., with the East Coast getting Boston-Detroit. Other parts of the country will see St. Louis vs. Milwaukee, the Royals at Angels and Giants-Diamondbacks.
Sunday, TBS shows the Yankees’ game in Tampa Bay. ESPN’s Sunday night brings together the White Sox and Rangers.
It’s time for the azaleas in Augusta, even if they bloomed early this year. The Masters kicks off Thursday when ceremonial starters Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus head to the first tee. ESPN has coverage Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. CBS takes over Saturday at 3:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. By nightfall, the green jacket will be awarded.
While the spring season kicks off, ice hockey reaches the end of its campaign. NBC Sports network has the Rangers visiting Pittsburgh Thursday at 7 p.m. The Coyotes head to St. Louis Friday at 7:30 p.m., and then there’s a doubleheader Saturday – Flyers vs. Penguins at 4 p.m. and Capitals at Rangers at 6:30 p.m.
NBC offers the Red Wings against Blackhawks Saturday at 1 p.m.,  while the Capitals host Florida Thursday at 7 p.m. on Comcast.
The NCAA Frozen Four heads to a traditional venue – Tampa Bay – this weekend. Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2, Boston College plays Minnesota in the second semifinal. Thursday’s winners go for the title Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Knicks, minus Jeremy Lin, head to Orlando Thursday at 7 p.m. on TNT. Boston travels to Chicago in the nightcap. ESPN starts its Saturday doubleheader in Philadelphia, with the 76ers meeting the Magic at 8 p.m. The Nuggets take on the Warriors in the nightcap.
ABC shows the Bulls at Knicks Sunday at 1 p.m.
Comcast-plus has the Wizards’ game at Detroit Thursday at 7:30 p.m., then the Wizards head to New Jersey Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast.
ACC baseball takes the stage on Comcast this weekend. Virginia Tech hosts Boston College Saturday at noon, and Florida State meets Georgia Tech Sunday at 1 p.m. In the SEC, Auburn faces Alabama at 4 p.m. Saturday.
ESPN has Kansas City against the Galaxy in MLS action Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Family Circle tennis tournament concludes on ESPN2 this weekend. Coverage starts at 1 p.m. on Friday with the quarterfinals, Saturday with the semifinals and the final on Sunday.
Virginia battles North Carolina in lacrosse Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN.

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