ST. LOUIS — National League Central rival Cincinnati will provide the competition at 3:15 p.m. Monday when the St. Louis Cardinals open the home portion of their season.
The Cardinals and Reds are expected to battle for division supremacy, and the early season three-game series will stoke the fires for future matchups when much could be on the line.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia (1-0, 1.59 ERA) will make his second start of the season and will be opposed by Cincinnati right-hander Mat Latos (0-0, 4.05 ERA) before a capacity crowd.
Pregame activities will honor Cardinals great Stan "The Man" Musial, who died Jan. 19 at age 92.
The Cardinals are wearing a patch to remember Musial, and Musial's four children --son Dick and daughters Gerry Ashley, Janet Schwarze and Jean Edmonds --will be at Busch Stadium to unveil a wall marker of their famous father.
A full tribute to Musial will be held before the 7:15 p.m. game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
Pregame activities begin Monday at 2:30 p.m. with the Budweiser Clydesdales. As usual, Cardinals Hall of Famers and all current players will arrive on the field via Ford motorcade.
The Hall of Famers, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter, will be riding in 2014 Ford Mustang Convertibles, while the current players will arrive in 2013 Ford F-150 Raptors.
The Cardinals' last four World Series trophies (1967, 1982, 2006, 2011) also will enter the stadium via motorcade.
Stadium gates open at 1:15 p.m., with the Cardinals' official pregame pep rally scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the corner of Clark and 8th streets.
Local rock band Trixie Delight will perform from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fredbird will be on hand to entertain children.
All fans ages 21 and over with a ticket to the game will receive a Budweiser magnet schedule.
As in past years, fans will enjoy watching a flight of an American Bald Eagle, courtesy of the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis.
The color guard and American flag will be provided by Scott Air Force Base, and the national anthem will be performed by six members of the Gateway Harmonica Club of St. Louis. Musial was an honorary member of the club.
A moment of silence will be held before the game in memory of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Musial, St. Louis native and former manager Earl Weaver, former Cardinals outfielder Chuck Diering, longtime team organist Ernie Hays and Redbird Roost cook Fanny Scholl, who was known by many for her tasty hamburgers, called "Fannyburgers."
Former Cardinals Jason Isringhausen and Jim Edmonds will throw out ceremonial first pitches.
Some physical changes have been made to the stadium, beginning its eighth season.
More than 100,000 feet of new sod has been installed. The sod, grown in Fort Morgan, Colo., is a blend of Kentucky Bluegrass set in a 10-inch root zone that is 85-percent sand, 10-percent peat and 5-percent Zeopro.
Fans will notice an expanded sidewalk outside the Cardinals Team Store and the plaza of champions at 8th and Clark.
New flooring has been installed in several areas of the ballpark, and 150 HD TVs have been added. Upgraded outdoor furniture will welcome fans in many of the all-inclusive areas.
Some food changes have been made. New in Section 135 is the Double Play Tap and Grill, where fans can purchase a cheddar-stuffed burger on a pretzel bun or a nacho platter with fresh toppings.
Kohn's Kosher Cart, featuring knockwurst and pastrami sandwiches, is located in Section 147.
Dizzy's Diners return to Sections 139, 161 and 446 and have added The Horseshoe, an open-faced burger with two patties, topped with fries and cheese sauce.
Other additions include Bavarian Pretzel Sticks, located in Sections 139, 161, 271 and 446, and Fried Pickle Spears, located in Sections 271 and 509.
Because of the construction of the first phase of the new Ballpark Village, some traffic patterns have changed.
Eighth Street is now two-way between Clark and Market streets, with two northbound and two southbound lanes.
Temporary stop signs are in place at intersections of 8th and Clark and 8th and Walnut until new traffic signals are soon installed.
Walnut Street also is two-way between 8th and Broadway, with one westbound lane and two eastbound lanes.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.