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51s welcome start of home season

Every baseball team looks forward to Opening Day, and after playing their first seven games of the season on the road, the 51s are eager to play at home.

After getting snowed out in Colorado Springs on Thursday, the 51s (4-3) will host the Salt Lake Bees (6-2) at 7:11 tonight at Cashman Field in their 25th home opener in Las Vegas.

“First of all, we’re looking for some warm weather. That’s the most important thing,” first-year 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “It’s always nice to open up at home and play in your own ballpark, where you’re going to play 70-something games this season. It’s a good situation for us, and hopefully we can take advantage of the opportunity and make this a home-field advantage.”

Las Vegas, winners of four straight, also will play Salt Lake — the Los Angeles Angels’ affiliate — on Saturday, Sunday and Monday before hosting Colorado Springs — the Colorado Rockies’ affiliate — Tuesday through April 20.

All the games are scheduled to start at 7:11 p.m., except for Sunday (12:05 p.m.).

Las Vegas’ Joe Mays (0-1, 3.60 ERA) and Salt Lake’s Pedro Liriano (0-1, 4.50) will start tonight, and the 51s’ Greg Miller (0-0, 3.00) and the Bees’ Phil Seibel (0-1, 12.00) will start Saturday.

Bartolo Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner, will make a rehabilitation start Sunday for the Bees. The 51s will start Travis Smith (1-0, 3.60).

“It will be another challenge for us,” Bundy said of facing Colon. “You’re talking about one of the top right-handers in the American League. He’s going to be down here to get his work, and we’ll be there to win a ballgame.”

Las Vegas’ Eric Stults (1-0, 3.12) and Salt Lake’s Kasey Olenberger (1-0, 2.08) will start Monday.

Las Vegas lost its first three games of the season at Salt Lake but beat the Bees in the series finale, then swept three games from the Sky Sox.

“We made some fundamental mistakes in Salt Lake and it cost us a couple of ballgames,” Bundy said. “Things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to in Salt Lake, but we got focused in the last game of the series, then we played very well in Colorado Springs.”

The 51s’ outfielders led the team on the trip. Mitch Jones made the biggest impact, hitting .429 and leading the squad with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Larry Bigbie batted .500 (10-for-20), Choo Freeman hit .458 and Delwyn Young hit .417 with two home runs and six RBIs.

Las Vegas has a crowded outfield and will need to find playing time for top prospects Andy LaRoche (.200) and James Loney (.182).

“That’s a nice problem to have,” Bundy said. “We have got about six (outfielders).”

Tony Abreu, another top prospect, is off to a hot start after spending last season at Double-A Jacksonville.

Abreu, a leadoff hitter and infielder, had eight straight hits this week and is batting .483 with a homer and five RBIs.

“Tony hit (.287) in the Southern League, which is a pretty tough league. That’s like hitting .300 in the Texas League,” Bundy said. “Tony’s a good player. He’s done a great job for us playing second, short and third.”

NOTES — A fireworks show will take place after tonight’s game, and fans will get magnetic 51s schedules. … All of Las Vegas’ games will be broadcast live on KENO-AM (1460), with Russ Langer providing the play-by-play. Univision Radio on KLSQ-AM (870) will broadcast all 72 home games in Spanish, with Jose Manuel Santos calling the action.

SALT LAKE BEES AT LAS VEGAS 51S

WHEN: 7:11 p.m. today, 7:11 p.m. Saturday, 12:05 p.m. Sunday, 7:11 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Cashman Field

RECORDS: Bees (6-2); 51s (4-3)

SALT LAKE BEES AT LAS VEGAS 51S

AFFILIATIONS: Salt Lake, Los Angeles Angels; Las Vegas, Los Angeles Dodgers • TODAY’S PITCHERS: Bees RHP Pedro Liriano (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. 51s RHP Joe Mays (0-1, 3.60) • RADIO: KENO-AM (1460) • SERIES NOTES: Las Vegas has won six consecutive home openers. … Angels right-hander Bartolo Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner, is scheduled to make a rehabilitation start for Salt Lake on Sunday.

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