The old cliche “you can’t go home again” does not apply in baseball.
Players return to face their old teams plenty of times throughout their careers as they move about from one city to the next, especially in the minor leagues.
Usually that comes from one season to the next. It is rare, however, to see a player back in town just a few weeks after he was traded away.
That is exactly what will happen to right-handed relievers Steve Ames and Josh Wall when they return to Albuquerque tonight as members of the New Orleans Zephyrs.
The duo was dealt to the Marlins organization by the Dodgers in the trade for big-league starter Ricky Nolasco.
Since the trade, Ames has thrown seven scoreless innings for New Orleans (52-54), allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out five batters.
Wall, who was born in nearby Walker, La., has tossed 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out six.
The series kicks off tonight at 7:05 p.m.
New Orleans rotation
Rotation: The Zephyrs have not officially released their order of starters for the series but based on the recent run of starts the following order seems likely.
The one pitcher who will not start in the series is lefty Duane Below (5-5, 2.55 ERA), pictured, who pitched Thursday.
Former Cubs prospect Jay Jackson (1-1, 5.40 ERA) should take the mound tonight. It will be the 25-year-old right-hander’s third start for New Orleans after he started the year at Double-A Jacksonville (3-6, 3.16).
Right-hander Jared Rogers (5-2, 5.56) will likely follow Saturday. He started the year down at Single-A Jupiter (1-2, 2.68) before joining the Zephyrs in late May.
Prospect Brian Flynn (3-10, 3.36) should start Sunday night. The lefty was part of the big trade last season that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit for current Marlins Rob Brantly and Justin Turner.
Veteran right-hander Doug Mathis (5-7, 3.64), who finished last season in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines, is expected to start Monday’s matinee finale.
New Orleans bullpen
Bullpen: With Ames, pictured, and Wall now on board as setup men, closer Chris Hatcher (2-2, 2.96, 27 saves) is continuing to excel as the Pacific Coast League leader in saves. The former catcher has 51 strikeouts in 51.2 innings this year thanks to a fastball that sits at 93-94 mph and a sharp, late-breaking slider.
The rest of the relief corps is deep in right-handers, with Jonathan Albaladejo (3-4, 3.66, 3 saves), former Cardinals prospect Adam Reifer (1-0, 1.32, 1 save) and swingman Rett Varner (0-2, 2.68, 1 save) all present.
Of the two lefties in the bullpen, Zach Phillips (4-1, 2.44) has been with the team all season. James Leverton (3-1, 2.16, 1 save) has half as many appearances after coming up from Jacksonville. He is more of a long reliever than a lefty specialist.
New Orleans catching
Catching: This position has featured some decent defensive play but very little offense from the two backstops that have been with the team most of the year.
Veteran Koyie Hill (.227, HR, 13 RBI), pictured from his days with the Chicago Cubs, has played 52 games behind the plate for New Orleans. A onetime Dodgers farmhand, Hill has 313 games in the Majors in years past.
Former first-round pick Kyle Skipworth (.164, 5 HR, 21 RBI) has never really gotten on track offensively in his career. Poor plate discipline has dogged him since he was taken with the sixth overall pick by the Marlins in 2008. This season Skipworth has 62 strikeouts and just nine walks in 190 plate appearances.
New Orleans infield
Infield: Change is likely to be afoot with this group after the Marlins outrighted Chris Valaika (.250, 2 RBI during a five-game rehab stint) to Triple-A, given them 26 players on the roster. Valaika can play second base, shortstop and third base, adding to a versatile group of veterans. Every Zephyrs infielder has past big-league experience.
First base has been split between former Indian Jordan Brown (.278, 2 HR, 23 RBI), who also plays left field, and former Oriole Joe Mahoney (.215, 2 HR, 9 RBI), who joined the club after spending much of the season on the Marlins’ disabled list.
Ex-Astro Matt Downs (.215, 8 HR, 35 RBI) has seen the bulk of the starts at second base and has also played third and first.
Another former Isotope, Nick Green (.224, 7 HR, 22 RBI), pictured, has roamed between shortstop, third and second.
Gil Velazquez (.257, 15 RBI) has been the primary shortstop with the occasional appearance at second. A former Red Sox and Angel, he is a much better fielder than hitter at this point in his career.
The final piece of the infield puzzle is ex-Padre Kevin Kouzmanoff (.294, 3 HR, 24 RBI), who usually plays third base but can slide to first as well.
New Orleans outfield
Outfield: This group has been a bit more stable, though Gorkys Hernandez (.275, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 22 stolen bases) was recently traded away to the Royals organization.
What remains are three primary starters and an emerging youngster who shifts between the corners in Kyle Jensen (.222, 6 HR, 18 RBI), who was the Marlins’ No. 19-ranked prospect according to Baseball America in 2012 but dropped out of the top 30 entering this year.
Jake Smolinski (.260, 7 HR, 23 RBI) has been the usual left fielder. He began his career as an infielder in the Nationals organization in 2007.
Center field usually falls to Kevin Mattison (.216, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 14 steals), whose weakness is the strikeout. He has 98 in 232 at-bats this season.
Longtime Zephyr Bryan Petersen (.292, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 10 steals), pictured, has started in right field for the most part this year. The former UC Irvine standout has played in New Orleans since 2010.
New Orleans prospect
Prospect to watch: As it was during the Zephyrs’ last visit, the only ranked prospects on the squad are Flynn, pictured, at No. 24 and Hatcher at No. 21.
This time around Flynn should pitch in Albuquerque so he gets the spotlight. A seventh-round pick out of Wichita State in 2011, the 6-foot-7 left-hander has a 2.86 ERA in his last 10 starts, though he has just two wins in that span.
Flynn’s fastball sits at 89-92 mph and can run up to 94 with some movement. He does a good job of keeping it down in the zone. Flynn has both a curveball and a slider, though the latter is more effective. He is throwing his changeup more thanks to improved command.
New Orleans outlook
Outlook: The Zephyrs bucked recent history by splitting a four-game series with the Isotopes (59-47) back on May 3-6. They had previously had terrible luck in Albuquerque.
This version of the Zephyrs has not changed much since then, still boasting a strong pitching staff but a relatively weak lineup. None of the New Orleans players is even batting .300.
It will be up to players like Mahoney, pictured, to start hitting their weight to back the good collection of starters and relievers.
The Isotopes and Zephyrs are 4-4 overall against each other this year, so expect another close series.