Freese talks about his health, Cards' recent success

SAN FRANCISCO -- David Freese went 1-for-4 and played seven innings for Triple-A Memphis on Friday, marking the first game action the third baseman has seen since March 22.

Freese, who opened the season on the disabled list with a lower back injury, was scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment Thursday. However, rain washed that game out, leaving Memphis to play a pair of seven-inning games Friday.

Freese batted third and played third base in the first game of the twin bill. His two-run double highlighted an eight-run fifth inning for Memphis, which won the game, 9-0, over Oklahoma City. Freese did not make a play in the field. He was not scheduled to start the second game of the doubleheader.

Asked if Thursday's postponement left Freese sufficient time to wrap up his rehab stint this weekend, manager Mike Matheny said, "We'll hear how that goes and see how he feels. We've got Saturday and Sunday to play with, too, before we make any kind of decision."

Freese and the Cardinals initially set their sights on Monday's home opener for the third baseman's return from the disabled list. Freese has been nursing back pain on and off since tumbling into the stands during a Spring Training game March 4.

Cardinals' home opener ceremony to honor Musial

Stan 'The Man' Musial remembered at funeral

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals' home opener -- while always dotted with pomp and circumstance, the Budweiser Clydesdales and a spotlight on the organization's storied history -- will, this year, also serve as a tribute to Stan Musial. The Hall of Famer Musial, who played 22 years for the Cardinals and then remained an active member of the St. Louis community, died in January. He was 92.

Before Monday's home opener against the Reds, the Cardinals will dedicate a wall marker to Musial in left-center field. The marker, which will be unveiled by Musial's four children, stands to be the centerpiece of the Opening Day ceremonies.

As has become tradition, Cardinals players, coaching staff and the organization's Hall of Famers will be introduced in Busch Stadium via a Ford motorcade. The national anthem will then be performed by members of the Gateway Harmonica Club of St. Louis. This, too, is a nod to Musial, who was an honorary member of the club.

Former Cardinals Jason Isringhausen and Jim Edmonds are slated to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The on-field ceremonies are scheduled to begin 45 minutes before the scheduled 3:15 p.m. CT first pitch.

As promised, Matheny shuffles Cards' lineup

STL@NYM: Beltran scores a pair with double to center

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Mike Matheny let it be known during Spring Training that he wouldn't hesitate to keep his batting order fluid. He's kept to that promise during this first week of the season.

With his third different lineup in four games, Matheny pushed Carlos Beltran up to the second place in the order Friday, a spot he started 40 games from in 2012. The move, Matheny said, was motivated by some "past success" that Beltran has had against lefty starter Barry Zito.

That move was complemented by bumping third baseman Matt Carpenter down to the No. 6 hole.

"All of our guys can fit anywhere in the lineup," Matheny said. "It's just a matter of them understanding their role. We want them to take their at-bats regardless of where they are in the batting order. The game should dictate how they take their at-bats. I think it's another topic that people make a lot more of than it really is. There's probably too much pride or insult given as to where you hit in the lineup."

Matheny could only hope that this lineup would have better success than the last one he sent out to face Zito, who flummoxed the Cardinals' offense in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Zito allowed only six hits in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in that outing, which sent the series back to San Francisco. It also marked the first of seven straight wins by the Giants en route to capturing a World Series title.

Worth noting

• Bengie Molina, who played four of his 13 seasons with the Giants, received a standing ovation in his return to AT&T Park as the Cardinals' assistant hitting coach Friday. Molina hit .276 in 472 games with the organization. Manager Mike Matheny, who closed his career in San Francisco, also received a warm welcome.

• Both managers Matheny and Bruce Bochy said that there is no lingering animosity from the hard slide Matt Holliday took into Giants infielder Marco Scutaro during the NLCS last fall. The incident came in Game 2 and was described by Bochy afterward as "an illegal slide." Scutaro left that game early but returned to the field in Game 3 and eventually became the Most Valuable Player of the series.

"We play the game hard. They play the game hard," Matheny said Friday. "I imagine it was because of the stage that we were on that that thing was kind of over-magnified. We all go about the game the right way. Move on."

The play, though, wasn't so quickly forgotten by the fans, who did not greet Holliday all that kindly during pregame introductions.

• Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras was not scheduled to play in Triple-A Memphis' season opener Friday, as he was traveling back from the Dominican Republic. Taveras recently returned to his home due to a family matter.