Baseball: Isotopes start season at home Thursday vs. Omaha

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By The Staff

The Albuquerque Isotopes officially get the 2009 season started Thursday.

The Triple-A Isotopes will start their first season under the tent of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization at home when they face the Omaha Royals in the first of a four-game set at 6:35 p.m. at Isotopes Park.

Things have been abuzz in Albuquerque since the Isotopes changed their affiliation from the Florida Marlins, the Major League Baseball franchise the Isotopes were associated with from 2003-2008.

Before their departure after the 2000 season to become the Portland Beavers, the Albuquerque Dukes — the forerunners of the Isotopes — were the Triple-A franchise of the Dodgers. The Dukes had a solid following in Albuquerque and were regularly among the top minor league draws year-in and year-out before pulling up stakes.

Several notable MLB players, such as Mike Piazza, Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela and Pedro Guerrero spent time with the Dukes.

Former Duke and former MLB All-Star Tim Wallach was picked earlier this season to manage the Isotopes for the 2009 season. Wallach, who played three years with the Dodgers but had the best years of his playing career with the now-defunct Montreal Expos, will manage at the Triple-A level for the first time this season.