Allen Craig has been with the Cardinals for all or parts of the previous three seasons and he’s caught the last out of a World Series. But he’s never been on the field for the first out of the season until tonight. Craig, the Cardinals’ cleanup man, will be making his initial opening day start when he lines up at first base.

“It’s a huge deal,” said Craig. “I’m thrilled to be part of it. It’s awesome.

“It’s an honor to make the opening day roster whether it’s your first or your 15th.”

Manager Mike Matheny, preferring not to juggle his rotation, will keep his starters in order. That means rookie Shelby Miller, who fanned seven while surpassing 90 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings in a minor league game Saturday, will work the second game of the series in San Francisco this Saturday.

Adam Wainwright will start the San Francisco series finale on Sunday and Jaime Garcia, who will pitch the second game in Phoenix on Tuesday night, will start the home opener against Cincinnati a week from today.

“A few days ago,” said Garcia, “they told me there was a good chance I’d be starting that last game in San Francisco or the first game at home. I said whatever decision was fine with me. But now that I know I’ll be starting the home opener, it’s pretty cool. I’ve been part of four opening days at home now, and that first game at home is always exciting.”