04/04/12 11:35 PM ET
Early verdict: Marlins Park pitcher-friendly
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse said Marlins Park is perfect the way it is, and Miami outfielder Chris Coghlan said the new ballpark sure beats Sun Life Stadium.
Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes says it really doesn't matter how big or small his home field is, because hitting home runs is not his game anyway.
It's a small sample size, but South Florida's newest Major League stadium appears on its way to gaining a reputation as a pitcher's park. But that could all change in the next home game.
"It's too early to make a prediction like that," Bonifacio said. "We've only played one game here. We still have to see how the ball carries when the roof is open and when it's closed. You can't tell that after one game."
Here's what we know: With the roof open on Wednesday, neither team hit a home run in the Cardinals' 4-1 victory against the Marlins on Opening Night, and both clubs combined for only three extra-base hits. Long drives to the outfield, including a few off the bat of hitters like Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, appeared to be on their way out of the park, but never made it past the warning track.
Moreover, some could argue the ballpark helped Lohse, who did not allow a hit until the seventh inning. Overall, the Cardinals racked up 13 hits in the win, while the Marlins managed only four.
"Obviously, hitters are going to think the opposite of what I think, and I think it's a great ballpark," Lohse said. "It plays pretty big. It's a good atmosphere and a lot of fun out there."
If anybody knows about pitching in a pitcher-friendly park, it's Marlins closer Heath Bell. The reliever spent the last five seasons pitching in Petco Park in San Diego, arguably one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game.
"I think [Marlins Park] plays really fair," Bell said. "If you get hold of it, it's going to leave. There are not going to be any mistake home runs here. It's kind of like Atlanta's ballpark. I think sometimes the ball is going to carry a little bit to the left when the stadium is wide open, and the wind is blowing a little bit. It might not carry that much to right."
Bell believes the secret to pitching in Marlins Park is really no secret at all.
"If you keep the ball down and you pitch real well, it doesn't matter what ballpark you are in," Bell said. "If you leave it up, guys are going to hit home runs. My previous team did not have a lot of home run guys, and that's why there weren't a lot of home runs. Visiting guys never had a problem hitting home runs."
Coghlan agreed. He added that Marlins Park will never be in the same category as Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park or Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park -- two parks with hitter-friendly reputations -- but he's not complaining.
"Everything here is better than we had," Coghlan said. "It carries better than it did at Sun Life. To me, it's an upgrade, and that's not even talking about all of the amenities we have in this new stadium."
For his part, Reyes isn't worried.
"That's not my game," Reyes said. "My job is to get on bases and score runs."
After the game, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was asked if his new ballpark is pitcher-friendly.
"For Lohse, yes," he said. "But we can't judge a ballpark on one day. We can't."
Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal has a different opinion. In the ninth inning, Furcal hit a ball to deep right-center field that would have been out of a few ballparks.
"It's huge," Furcal said.