MIAMI -- Manager Mike Matheny has eliminated any suspense as to who will get the distinction of being the first hitter to record a plate appearance at Marlins Park by announcing his Opening Day lineup during the Cardinals' workout at the new Miami ballpark on Tuesday.
Rafael Furcal will be the answer to that future trivia question, as Matheny opted to go with his shortstop atop the lineup despite Furcal's troubles at the plate this spring. In 16 Grapefruit League games, Furcal hit just .192. But Matheny was encouraged by what he saw from Furcal over the weekend, and Furcal's familiarity with the leadoff role -- he has hit there in 1,287 of his 1,428 Major League starts -- also played a role in the decision.
"When you have the lineup you have behind him, you just want to see him on base," Matheny said. "I think he knows that. He was putting a lot of balls in the air earlier in spring and you can see that he's changed that now."
Batting behind Furcal, in order, will be Carlos Beltran (RF), Matt Holliday (LF), Lance Berkman (1B), David Freese (3B), Yadier Molina (C), Jon Jay (CF) and Daniel Descalso (2B). Kyle Lohse is the team's Opening Day starter and will be opposed by right-hander Josh Johnson.
As Matheny explained last week, Descalso's appearance in Wednesday's lineup does not mean that Tyler Greene lost the second-base job during Spring Training. Rather, Matheny will weigh factors, including matchups, when deciding which of the two to start on a given day. Descalso was the natural choice to earn the nod for this game since the Cardinals will be facing a right-handed starter.
"I came out here ready to show these guys I was ready to play," said Descalso, who has started nine games at second in his Major League career. "That's what I came out here to do."
Matheny can't wait for managerial debut
MIAMI -- On the eve of his managerial debut, Mike Matheny seemed very much at ease about his upcoming milestone, perhaps a reflection of how pleased he is with all that was accomplished during his first Spring Training at the helm.
Having used the word "anxious" to describe his feelings leading up to Spring Training, Matheny insisted on Tuesday that, more than anything else, he is simply excited for the season to start.
"Maybe I'm just not smart enough to distinguish between nerves and excitement," he said. "I can't wait to get out there and watch these guys do their thing. They've competed well. They've worked hard. They did everything, and everything that we asked them to do, they met and exceeded. Now, it's kind of a reward for them to be able to play a game and show the fan base we're excited about moving on."
Matheny addressed the club prior to Tuesday's workout, though he didn't make the specifics of his speech public afterward. He did, though, reveal that the speech was short given how many times he had already spoken during spring team meetings.
W: Lohse (1-0) L: Johnson (0-1)
SV: Motte (1)
A first-year, first-time manager, the 41-year-old Matheny will become the youngest active manager in baseball when the Cardinals play on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. CT against the Marlins. He will also be the youngest manager to lead a St. Louis club since 1978, when Jack Krol, also at the age of 41, managed the Cardinals.
Cardinals say Marlins Park is unique, big
MIAMI -- In waves, players, coaches and staff members filtered out of the Marlins Park visitors' clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon to get a glimpse of Miami's new gem. Impressions weren't all that varied, either, as most used some synonyms for the adjectives "big" and "bright" to describe baseball's newest stadium.
"It's unique, too," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think that's something that you look at with the new parks. It seems like you go through phases where everything kind of looks the same. But they've got their own unique flavor to this one."
While the large and flashy home run-celebrating sculpture in center field drew plenty of attention, as did the lime-green outfield wall, a lot of eyes were drawn to the height of the walls and how far they were from home plate. On first glance, this is a ballpark that appears to play in favor of pitchers.
"It didn't seem like [the balls were] carrying very well, but you never know until you play a game in it," said Kyle Lohse, who will start for St. Louis on Wednesday. "It seemed like it was tough for some guys to get balls out during batting practice, but that could change."
Indeed, several balls that appeared headed for outfield seats dropped near the warning track during batting practice. It is 335 feet to the fence down the right-field line and 344 feet down the left-field one. There is a 418-foot marking in center field, though it's not even at the outfield's deepest point. The wall takes on an unusual circular shape at that point. Parts of right-center field are approaching a 400-foot distance from the plate.
The Cardinals outfielders used Tuesday's workouts to get a feel for the spaciousness and also to see how balls caromed off various walls.
"It's definitely a big ballpark," center fielder Jon Jay said. "That's the first thing I noticed. I guess you'll have to see during the year. Today was just one day. I've seen some home runs hit in exhibition games, so we'll just see how it plays out during the year."
As for the infield, third-base coach Jose Oquendo noted that it could elicit quick hops because of how short the grass is cut. Infielders all took ground balls on Tuesday to get a better idea of what to expect on Wednesday.
The Rockies claimed right-hander Adam Ottavino off waivers from the Cardinals on Tuesday. That closes the book on Ottavino's six-year stay in the organization. A first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Ottavino was sent out of Major League camp early.
Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals' Opening Day starter, downplayed the pomp and circumstance that is sure to surround Wednesday's game, noting that he anticipates having the same nerves that he has had for all of his other season debuts.
"Pitching in the World Series last year, that's different," Lohse said. "It's my first start of the year. That's the way I look at it. It's going to be exciting, for sure. No offense to them, but it seems like whenever we play the Marlins, there's not that much of a crowd atmosphere that you have to deal with. I'm looking forward to that."
He walked around the new ballpark during Tuesday's workout, but did not get on the mound.
Though the Cardinals hope not to need their services behind home plate, both Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter will do some periodic work catching on the side. Both have been designated as emergency options should the Cardinals use and lose both Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz in a game.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.