Heyward debuts in Cardinals red with first-pitch single

Right fielder excited to be one piece in a potentially potent lineup

Heyward debuts in Cardinals red with first-pitch single

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though he still sits one month away from the introduction he's most anticipating, Jason Heyward made his debut in Cardinals red on Thursday while making his first start in right field for the team that acquired him in November.

Heyward wasted no time endearing himself to the red-clad fans at Roger Dean Stadium, either, as he singled on the first pitch he saw from Marlins starter Dan Haren. His single was the first of three consecutive hits that produced a pair of first-inning runs for the Cardinals.

"It's good to play baseball," Heyward said after going 1-for-2 while playing three innings. "[It's a] fresh start in so many ways this year."

After seven springs in Atlanta's big league camp, Heyward has assimilated seamlessly into his new surroundings. He has spoken numerous times about his excitement to be one piece in a potentially potent St. Louis lineup, where he filled the second hole on Thursday. While manager Mike Matheny hasn't committed to that being Heyward's regular-season spot, there appears to be a strong chance he will end up there. He started more games from the No. 2 place in Atlanta's lineup than anywhere else in the Braves' order.

As for wearing a new uniform for the first time in his career, Heyward said, "I don't know if it will ever feel different."

Perhaps playing against his former team will, though Heyward will have some time to prepare for that. He confirmed on Thursday that he will not be on the Cardinals' travel squad when the team heads to Orlando, Fla., to face the Braves next week.

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