One of the most noticeable changes could be found along the left-field wall, in between the foul pole and the visitor's bullpen, where a display honors the Cardinals Hall of Famers and Cardinals who've had their numbers retired.
The new display, complete with red numbers, white names and player pictures, helps to illustrate some of the proud history of the franchise. The same names and numbers -- including a St. Louis logo for Rogers Hornsby, No. 85 for Gussie Busch and a microphone for Jack Buck -- are still being displayed beneath the video scoreboard beyond the right-center-field stands, but the new tribute adds another touch to the new park.
"The ballpark is wonderful," said Cardinals Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, one of the first to see the new display on Friday afternoon. "I can't believe what they did on this field over the wintertime, to put this ballfield in and the shape it's in. It's outstanding. I don't know about the rest of the park, the seats or anything, but you're not going to beat this field. And it's going to get better."
Schoendienst, whose No. 2 sits between Ozzie Smith's No. 1 and Stan Musial's No. 6 on the wall, was a 10-time All-Star during his 19-year Major League career as a second baseman. The Germantown, Ill., native also managed the Cardinals for three different stretches.
"It's a nice park in a great setting and everything," Schoendienst said. "And it should be, it's new. The old ballpark was a beautiful park. That was all enclosed, and it was like the Coliseum in Rome. That's what I liked about it, the beauty of it. That was a nice ballpark."
Rincon has surgery: The Cardinals announced on Friday that left-handed relief pitcher Ricardo Rincon underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on Thursday to repair the labrum and rotator cuff in his left shoulder. Rincon, 36, will miss the rest of the 2006 season. He had appeared in five games this season and had allowed four runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings.
Bigbie needs at-bats: Now that outfielder Larry Bigbie has been activated from the disabled list after missing the first 32 regular season games, the Cardinals have to figure out a way to get the 28-year-old more at-bats and work him into the mix at the corner outfield spots.
"He's in a difficult position because he played the other day and he needs at-bats, but our priority here is not to give a guy at-bats, it's to try to get the guy who has the best chance to get hits," La Russa said. "He may start a game or two this weekend, I don't know, but it's hard to get extended play when you've got John Rodriguez doing what he's doing."
Bigbie, acquired along with second baseman Aaron Miles in the offseason trade that sent Ray King to the Colorado Rockies, batted .143 (five hits in 35 at-bats) during his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Memphis. The left-handed hitter got his first start on Tuesday against his former team but so far is hitless in four at-bats with the Cardinals.
Bigbie will have to compete for at-bats in the outfield mix along with Juan Encarnacion (.234 with five home runs in 128 at-bats), Rodriguez (.396 in 48 at-bats), So Taguchi (.268 in 82 at-bats) and utility man Hector Luna (.324 in 68 at-bats).
Encarnacion has made 30 starts in right field. Taguchi has made 14 starts in left field, with the left-handed hitting Rodriguez making five starts there and Luna, an infielder by trade, making three starts in left.
Pretty in pink: Shortstop David Eckstein and center fielder Jim Edmonds are two of the Major League players who will use pink Louisville Slugger bats on Mother's Day on Sunday to help raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
At the conclusion of Sunday's games, the players will autograph the bats and Major League Baseball will auction off the items on MLB.com, with the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for research. Cardinals wives will be collecting money for the St. Louis affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation on Sunday outside of Gates 2, 3 and 6 at Busch Stadium.
La Russa likes Cunnane: Earlier this week the Cardinals purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Will Cunnane from the independent Atlantic League Bridgeport Bluefish and assigned him to Memphis.
Cunnane, who is 13-12 in his eight years of big-league experience and last played in the Houston Astros' organization at Triple-A Round Rock in 2005, was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts for the Bluefish this season. He had allowed 11 hits and struck out 11 batters in 12 innings.
"We've gone against him for years," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said on Friday. "I've always liked him. I've always thought he was a good competitor."
In his first start at Memphis on Wednesday, Cunnane allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings and took a no-decision. He walked three batters and struck out two.
Baby 'Birds: Outfielder Timo Perez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to raise his batting average to .383 (23-for-60), but the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds lost to Las Vegas, 5-3, on Thursday. Right-hander Dennis Tankersley took the loss, and fell to 1-5 on the season. The Redbirds are 11-21. ... The Double-A Springfield Cardinals (20-11) were set to begin a five-game series at Wichita on Friday night. ... Right-hander Nick Webber (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing two runs on five hits over four innings on Thursday as the Class A Palm Beach Cardinals lost at Dunedin, 6-1. Tyler Greene had a pair of hits in the loss. Palm Beach is 18-15. ... The Class A Swing of the Quad Cities (15-18) were rained out on Thursday at Wisconsin, but will begin a four-game series at Burlington on Friday night.
Coming up: Right-hander Jason Marquis (3-4, 6.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday opposite Arizona right-hander Claudio Vargas (4-1, 3.77 ERA). Marquis will be trying to break out of the funk that has seen him lose his last four decisions after winning his first three.
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.