The Cardinals begin their defense

Because they drew the assignment of facing the Marlins on the night Miami christened its new ballpark, the defending World Champion Cardinals managed not to dominate the storylines on Opening Day. Still, there are storylines aplenty as St. Louis attempts to become just the third team since 1979 to repeat as World Champs.

Mike Matheny makes his managerial debut on Wednesday as the new-look Cardinals play on without Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols and Dave Duncan. The Cardinals will also go down as the first team to face the Marlins in the team’s new stadium, and the novelty of the ballpark caught the attention of everyone upon first glance.

“It’s bright. It’s unique, too,” 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.”

Said Jon Jay, a Miami native: “We always hoped for something like this. Now the Miami community will have a real baseball stadium. You’ll get that feeling of a baseball park that we get going across the country. I think it’s nice for the community and the kids and everyone that is a part of Miami.”

Though there was plenty of oohing and ahhing over the unique new park during Tuesday’s workout, that wasn’t so much the case today. For those in red, this is game No. 1 of 162. That’s it. Asked if there would be a different feel to the night given all the pregame ceremonies and build up in Miami, starter Kyle Lohse might have put it best: “It’s another game. Pitching in the World Series last year, that’s different.”

The Cardinals’ Opening Day roster includes six players who have never been on a Major League Opening Day roster before. Those include Tony Cruz, Erik Komatsu, Lance Lynn, Matt Carpenter, Fernando Salas and Shane Robinson. Komatsu is the only one of the bunch who did not make an appearance with the Cardinals at some point last year.

“You always want to be a part of Opening Day roster,” said Lynn, who will make his season debut in Milwaukee on Sunday. “I happen to have a World Series under my belt before I had one of these, which is kind of weird. But it’s very exciting for this first one.”

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