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MIAMI — Righthander Kyle Lohse has started a season opener for the Cardinals before although he didn’t have to talk to anybody about it the day before.

Lohse was the Cardinals’ official opening game starter in 2008, his first year with the Cardinals, because Adam Wainwright’s opening day assignment against Colorado was rained out in the fourth inning and the game was scrubbed.

“I found out probably about 10:30 that night,” said Lohse of the advance notice he had for the first-game start.

He has known about tonight’s first-game assignment for weeks now. And there is no chance he will be rained out because the roof at new Marlins Park is expected to be closed. It was open Tuesday during the day and at night.

During the Cardinals’ late afternoon workout Tuesday, Lohse got his first look at the busy-looking new park, which features a home-run sculpture in center field, where fish will spin around and lights will blaze when the Marlins hit a home run.

“It’s a little different,” said Lohse, in his overall assessment of the park.

“It’s pretty cool, but it’s got some weird things going on.”

While there is much to observe here, Lohse did note that he didn’t think the ball carried very well.

“It seemed like it was pretty tough for some of our guys to hit the ball out in BP,” said Lohse, “but that could change.”

Though the opening night assignment traditionally is a significant one, Lohse said, “It’s another game. I don’t know how to put it, but pitching in the World Series last year ... that’s different than this.“

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN, but Lohse noted, “I’ve pitched on ESPN before, so it’s not that big a deal.“

During the workout, Lohse either stayed in the outfield shagging, or watching Jake Westbrook throw an extended bullpen session. He stayed away from going onto the stadium mound.

“I’ll surprise myself tomorrow,” he said, smiling. “It’s still 60 feet, 6 inches, right?“

The Cardinals and Marlins just finished playing each other six times this spring at the Roger Dean Stadium facility they share in nearby Jupiter, Fla.

“It’s going to be exciting, for sure,” Lohse said. “No offense to them, but it seems like whenever we play the Marlins, there’s not much crowd atmosphere that you’ve got to deal with.”

Furcal to lead off

Despite hitting .192 this spring, shortstop Rafael Furcal will bat leadoff for the Cardinals when they open the 2012 season tonight against the Miami Marlins.

Manager Mike Matheny talked recently about possibly using lefthanded-hitting Daniel Descalso in the No. 1 spot against Marlins ace righthander Josh Johnson.

But Tuesday he said the switch-hitting Furcal “has really put together some good at-bats here at the end” of spring training.

Descalso will bat eighth and play second base instead of Tyler Greene, who made the bulk of the starts at that position in the spring.

Matheny seemed to be leaning toward Greene as a power-stolen base threat who could bat first and play second. And not that that won’t happen.

Asked if he had been looking for a regular second baseman to emerge from spring training, Matheny said, “I’m guilty of getting my mind set on something and then wanting to see what I want to see. And I just don’t think that’s fair.

“I really went into this wide-eyed ... and how it played out is that I see huge positives for both guys. So, in order to maximize them, you’ve got to use them.”

Matheny said he did not envision a straight platoon between Descalso and the righthanded-hitting Greene.

“You’d have a hard time keeping Tyler sharp if you do that,” said Matheny. “Tyler’s shown the ability to put together some good at-bats against righthanders, just like we’ve seen good at-bats from Danny against the lefties.

“I’m going to weigh it each day as to which guy is going to give us the best chance at second base,” said Matheny, who added that he was confident in either at shortstop if Furcal needed a day off.

Matheny said the prospect of facing Miami righthander Josh Johnson had an impact on this particular lineup decision. Righthanders bat only .230 against Johnson although lefthanders aren’t much better at .249.

“He’s no walk in the park,” said Matheny.

Contact Hummel at or (314) 340-8196.


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