ST. LOUIS -- Meetings with the Secret Service were an element of the final preseason workout for the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers, who'll have President Bush watching them today.
Bush, hopeful of boosting his candidacy for re-election in a crucial swing state, will throw out the first pitch and is scheduled to stick around for at least a few innings. Players on the teams that finished third and fifth in the NL Central last year were looking forward to stealing some of the opening day spotlight, even if it meant alterations in the routine that included the on-field introduction of the Brewers' roster nearly two hours before game time and extra screening for everyone.
"That's something you definitely don't get to do every day, that's for sure," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "Getting to spend a few minutes with the president, it'll be well worth the disruptions."
Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen said Bush's appearance just added to the opening day festivities in a city that annually makes it a very big deal. Cardinals players traditionally arrive at home plate in convertibles for introductions, taking a grand tour around the warning track.
The Cardinals planned to present a jersey -- No. 43 -- to the president. Drapes were installed as a dress-up touch at strategic areas at 37-year-old Busch Stadium, and workers were assembling a bandstand in the grass berm beyond the center field wall.
"It just shows what an occasion it is in St. Louis," Rolen said. "To have him here, it's going to be like a holiday."