Bucs try to stay warm in chilly St. Louis

Bucs try to stay warm in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Snowy conditions and severe weather may have postponed home openers in both Chicago and Boston on Monday, but there will be baseball played in St. Louis as scheduled.

It will be cold -- very cold, in fact, when Nyjer Morgan steps to the plate to officially open the Pirates' 2009 season. But the snow that was falling on the Gateway City on Monday morning subsided around 1 p.m. ET, leaving only the frigid temperatures and gusting winds for the two clubs to deal with.

The temperature is expected to be about 38 degrees, with a 28 degree wind chill, at the 4:15 ET first pitch. Winds in excess of 20 mph are expected to continue throughout the game.

That's a bit of a change in conditions after arriving from central Florida, where the temperatures had been consistently in the 70s and 80s for the past month. However, the consensus around the visiting clubhouse at Busch Stadium was that Opening Day trumps any sort of uncomfortable weather condition at this point.

"It's the one day you especially want to get on the field no matter what the conditions are," manager John Russell said. "They're ready to go. They've been working for this day for a long time."

There were discussions on Sunday about a backup plan in case the weather conditions on Monday were not conducive to playing. With no off-day scheduled on Tuesday -- a luxury that is usually given in case bad weather forces a postponement -- the two teams would have played a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday.

A postponed game at this point would have wrecked havoc on both Pittsburgh's and St. Louis' pitching plans. And the Cardinals, especially, wanted to avoid this scenario since they have only one day off in April.

Both teams will have heaters in their dugout, and the hope is that those heaters will keep starter Paul Maholm from tightening up while he is sitting in between innings.

"We'll watch him just like we do every day," Russell said. "Obviously, with cold weather, we're going to have to see how things go. You have to make sure everyone stays loose and stretched out."

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