Lowell, Conine part of Marlins' home opener
Miami brings back former stars, shows video tribute on team's 20th anniversary
MIAMI -- The thrill of Opening Day is only matched by the excitement centered around a home opener.
Since the Marlins opened on the road on April 1 at Washington, Monday marked the start of their home schedule.
For a young team like the Marlins, who had nine players experience Opening Day for the first time, it once again was an honor to take part in pregame festivities.
"Having our fans out there is obviously a huge deal for our guys," rookie manager Mike Redmond said. "They're excited to go out there and get their names announced. Even though we've played a couple of games, your home opener is special.
"That's big for them to get their names announced and walk out on that line. It's big for them."
Coming home was a welcome relief for the youthful club, which took its lumps during a 1-5 road trip.
Marlins Park is entering its second season, and the stately retractable-roof building was dressed for the occasion. An Opening Night logo was behind home plate.
The Marlins are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and 10th since winning the 2003 World Series.
Before the first pitch against the Braves, there was a video tribute to the past. Highlighted in the clip were no-hitters by Al Leiter, Kevin Brown and A.J. Burnett, along with Livan Hernandez striking out 15 in the 1997 National League Championship Series, Edgar Renteria's walk-off World Series single in '97 and Josh Beckett closing out the Yankees in the 2003 World Series.
The national anthem on Monday was sung by Colleen Brennan, a former Miss Boca Raton, who sang the anthem 20 years ago at the team's first game.
To the fans' delight, Jeff Conine, wearing the old teal Marlins vest top, went to left field. He threw a relay to Mike Lowell, wearing a black Marlins jersey. Lowell turned and threw to Miami's catcher Rob Brantly.
A change the Marlins are making at the park from last year is which bullpen they are using. They now are in right field after being in left a year ago.
The reason was to put the bullpen in clear view of the Marlins' dugout, which is on the third-base side. The visiting 'pen also is directly in front of the opposing dugout.
After a hectic offseason in which the Marlins traded away a number of their high-priced and high-profile players, the organization is striving to win back its fan base.
"Obviously, to win, that's the only way to get them to stop talking about that stuff [the past]," closer Steve Cishek said. "Really, we're just going out there and taking it one game at a time and playing the game the way we can to get a win on the board. Hopefully they're going to pull for us. We need it.
"From a fan's perspective, I can understand. At the same time, we're going out there trying to win ballgames. We try not to think of what is going on that's outside our control. We're going out there trying to perform for our city."
Even though the Marlins have gotten off to a slow start, All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said it is too early to draw any long-range conclusions.
"We've only had six games and 20-25 at-bats," Stanton said. "People are making assumptions of how the season is going to go."
As for reaction to what happened last year, Stanton added: "That's over with. We've had all of Spring Training and some games under our belts. That's in the past."