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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Last updated: 11:07pm

Triple-A baseball returns to Tucson



Triple-A is back in Tucson this weekend.

The El Paso Chihuahuas and Reno Aces will play a four-game series this weekend at Kino Stadium.
The Chihuahuas were the Tucson Padres from 2011 to 2013 and the Reno Aces were the Tucson Sidewinders from 1998 to 2008.

“It is really fitting to have our home opener in Tucson; the fans here are tremendous,” Chihuahuas’ manager Pat Murphy said.

The four-game series will commence Friday night. The first pitch will be thrown at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 1:05 p.m. on Sunday and 6:35 p.m. on Monday.

The Chihuahuas are the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate and the Aces are the Arizona Diamondbacks’ top minor-league team.

In 2012, the Pacific Coast League sold the Tucson Padres to MountainStar Sports Group in Texas. The Tucson Padres were relocated to El Paso and renamed the Chihuahuas, but the team’s stadium, Southwest University Park, is not ready yet.

Former Tucson Padres general manager Mike Feder said he is also excited to have baseball back in Tucson.

“It will be nice to see some familiar former Padres,” Feder said. “Four Triple-A games in Tucson are better than no games.”

The Chihuahuas will not be able to play at the new stadium until April 28, when they will play a three-game series against the Fresno Grizzlies.

This series will be the second time this season the Chihuahuas will face off against the Aces. Earlier this month, the Chihuahuas played the Aces in Reno. They are currently 2-2 with the Aces.

“Archie Bradley pitched wonderful the last game we played him in Reno,” Murphy said.

Right-hand pitcher Archie Bradley is the top Diamondbacks prospect this season. Bradley is currently No. 5 on the MLB’s top 100 prospects list. Last season, Bradley went 14-5 with 162 strikeouts.

The Chihuahuas also have a top-10 star pitching prospect on their team, Burch Smith. The No. 8 right-hand pitcher ended last season with 46 strikeouts, with 10 being in his final game as a Tucson Padre.

Chihuahuas broadcaster Tim Hagerty and Murphy also said longtime MiLB and MLB player Kyle Blanks will be one to watch.

First baseman Blanks, the No. 47 top prospect has had five RBIs, four runs and three home runs in the last five games of the season.

“Blanks’ veteran experience is exceptional, and he was a great addition to the Chihuahuas,” Hagerty said.

Friday will also kick off four different promotional nights at Kino Sports Complex. There will be $2 beer specials on Friday, and Saturday will feature MLB giveaways. Sunday will be Military Appreciation and Bark in the Park Day; all active, reserve and retired members of the military will get two free box seat tickets with military ID and all dogs with leashes will be admitted for free. For Monday, pick up free admission tickets at any eegee’s location.

—Rose Aly Valenzuela @RoseAlyVal


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