Kozma honored with first Opening Day nod

Kozma honored with first Opening Day nod

PHOENIX -- Though the Cardinals' 25-man roster does not feature any first-time big leaguers, it does include six players who had never previously been a part of Opening Day in the Majors.

One of those -- shortstop Pete Kozma -- was in manager Mike Matheny's starting lineup on Monday. Another two (Ryan Jackson and Matt Adams) had a place on the bench, and a pair (Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly) were available in the bullpen. The sixth, Shelby Miller, will make his season debut on Saturday, when he starts against the Giants.

"It's nice to start here from the beginning and then work toward where we went last year," said Kozma, whose parents were in attendance. "I feel like I'm the quarterback of the infield. It means a lot to have that responsibility."

Somewhat unusual is the fact that four of those six players were a part of Cardinals playoff rosters before ever being in the Majors on Opening Day. Rosenthal, Kelly and Miller all pitched out of the 'pen for St. Louis in October. Kozma took the reins as the starting shortstop after Rafael Furcal sustained a season-ending elbow injury.

After Monday, they can all tout another career first.

"It's a little different than every other Opening Day I've ever been a part of from the Minors to college," Kelly said. "To be a part of this team is special. I'm really excited to get out there and the nervousness and excitement, once I can throw my first pitch, it'll all go away. The butterflies will go down."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.