Hanley, Coghlan part of opener festivities

Hanley, Coghlan part of opener festivities

MIAMI -- All the buildup for Opening Day has come and gone, as has the Marlins' first series of the new season.

Next up is preparing for Opening Night.

Fresh off three games at Citi Field, the Marlins make their Sun Life Stadium debut on at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday night, when the Dodgers are in South Florida for three games.

More than 35,000 fans are expected, and the number could reach 40,000, depending on the walkup.

"I assume people will continue to buy overnight," Marlins president David Samson said, noting tickets are still being purchased online at marlins.com.

For the second time in a week, the Marlins will go through a lively pregame ceremonies. At Citi Field on Monday, they took part in Opening Day festivities before facing the Mets.

An assortment of pregame activities is slated for Friday, including a military flyover and presentations of awards to Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan.

Ramirez will be recognized for winning the 2009 National League batting title, while Coghlan will be honored for being the '09 NL Rookie of the Year.

Caught up in the excitement expected Friday night is Chris Volstad, who will be Florida's starting pitcher.

"That's probably the next best thing to being the Opening Day starter is opening at home," said the 23-year-old Volstad. "That will be pretty cool. I'll have family come down. It's a different thing from what I have done before."

A Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., native, Volstad grew up about an hour's drive from Sun Life Stadium. But because he was so involved playing baseball himself as a teenager, he didn't attend many Marlins games in person.

"I watched them on TV a lot," he said. "I never made it down there for a home opener. I made it down to a handful of games growing up. We were on the go all the time. I had a lot of my own games, with travel ball."

A first-round pick in 2005, Volstad made his big league debut in July '08. His first MLB start came against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, where he put together a brilliant performance.

Volstad seized the moment in his first start, allowing one run in 8 2/3 innings for the win.

All fans attending Opening Night in Miami will receive a 2010 Marlins magnetic schedule. And 5,000 fans playing Billy Bingo will win a Ramirez batting champion pendant. Scott Stapp of the rock band Creed will sing the National Anthem. Immediately following, there will be a flyover of F-5's from the U.S. Navy.

The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson, who was voted into the Hall of Fame this year.

With all that will be going on, Volstad will be preparing himself for his third big league season.

Tabbed the Marlins' No. 4 starter, the 6-foot-8 right-hander will be looking to keep building upon a strong Spring Training finish.

Volstad had a rocky 2009 season, posting a 9-13 record with a 5.21 ERA.

In Spring Training, he was fine-tuning his slider. But success came late in the spring when he concentrated more on what got him to the big leagues in the first place -- his sinker.

Volstad is at his best when he uses his 6-foot-8 frame to his advantage, which is when he is throwing downhill. When his sinker is sharp, he gets his share of ground balls, and he is tough to hit.

"I'm definitely feeling good right now," he said. "The way I threw the last three games of Spring Training and seeing that the work I've put in between starts is paying off is encouraging. Everything has been getting progressively better."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.