MIAMI (AP/KSDK) - Perched atop the Miami Marlins' colorful, provocative home-run sculpture is a blue marlin, poised for splashdown whenever the home team hits one out.
Call the artwork what you will - gaudy, goofy, grotesque, great - but there's no denying it's new. For the Marlins, that's what this season is all about.
They've become a big-spending, attention-grabbing team as they open the season at home Wednesday night against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Marlins predict they'll contend for the NL East title - and more.
When ace Josh Johnson throws the first pitch in the new ballpark at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, the Marlins will begin trying to supplant the Cardinals, who mounted an improbable late-season charge to the World Series title.
Kyle Lohse will start on the mound for the Cardinals and shortstop Rafael Furcal will bat lead-off. Daniel Descalso will get the start at second base.
There are a lot of questions about the Cardinals with the loss of Manager Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols and Pitching Coach Dave Duncan. Since 2001, those three have been constants.
Other questions are, can the team's World Series MVP David Freese stay healthy this year and be the guy he was in the postseason? What type of player will Carlos Beltran be? There's the uncertainty of Chris Carpenter's status and how long he will be out?
But with all the uncertainty, the players and new skipper Mike Matheny like the pieces they have.
Matheny is a former Cardinals pitcher who won three gold gloves while with the team. He becomes the youngest active manager in the Big Leagues at 41 years old. He beat out a group of 35 names for the manager job.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.