Former major leaguers in Japan – Hitters

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I’ll go over the pitchers tomorrow, but for now, here’s a look at how
former major and minor leaguers are currently performing in Japan.

Tuffy Rhodes – .327/.413/.655, 11 HR in 110 AB

Rhodes earlier this year became the 12th player in history and first
American to hit 450 homers in Japan. He’d be leading the Pacific League
in slugging if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

Dan Johnson – .197/.302/.415, 9 HR in 169 AB
Kevin Mench – .148/.179/.204, 0 HR in 54 AB

The two highest-profile players to cross the Pacific this winter have
both been big-time disappointments, even if Johnson is doing everything
except hitting for average. Mench has found himself banished to the
minors, where he’s hit .362/.434/.553 in 47 at-bats.

Tony Blanco – .288/.341/.575, 19 HR in 233 AB

Blanco leads the Central League in homers in his first year in
Japan. His only major league action came with the Nationals in 2005,
but he’s still just 27 years old and he appears to be well set up for a
nice run as one of Japan’s top power hitters. I don’t think he was ever
going to make it in the U.S.

Gary Burnham Jr. – .247/.333/.398, 1 HR in 81 AB
Chase Lambin – .221/.256/.430, 4 HR in 86 AB

The Chiba Lotte Marines went obscure with a couple of their newest
imports, and it hasn’t really worked out so far. Burnham spent seven of
his 11 minor league seasons in the Philly farm system before playing in
Taiwan last year. Lambin, 29, hit .300/.378/.518 with the Marlins’
Triple-A club last season.

Jose Ortiz – .301/.340/.615, 9 HR in 156 AB

Ortiz, a one-time top prospect for the A’s, attempted a major league
comeback this year, only to return to Japan after failing to make the
Rockies during spring training. I’ve always thought he could hit in the
majors, but that he’s no longer much of an option at second could
prevent him from getting another shot.

Jason Botts – .143/.250/.571, 1 HR in 7 AB

I’m assuming that there have been some injury issues here. The former Ranger has hit .300/.375/.700 in 50 minor league at-bats.

Tadahito Iguchi – .330/.439/.554, 10 HR in 197 AB

Iguchi opted to return home when it didn’t look like he’d be offered
a starting job in the U.S. Obviously, he had some baseball left in him
after all. He’s performing even better now than he did in his final
year before leaving for MLB (.333/.394/.549 in 2004).

Others

Benny Agbayani – .285/.388/.431, 3 HR in 130 AB
Chris Aguila – .095/.208/.095, 0 HR in 42 AB
Hiram Bocachica – .243/.371/.564, 12 HR in 170 AB
Alex Cabrera – .250/.290/.453, 4 HR in 69 AB
Jamie D’Antona – .237/.284/.432, 8 HR in 169 AB
Jose Fernandez – .234/.308/.389, 6 HR in 175 AB
Aaron Guiel – .301/.374/.566, 9 HR in 166 AB
Luis Jimenez – .231/.268/.397, 5 HR in 127 AB
Greg LaRocca – .303/.374/.524, 9 HR in 185 AB
Scott McClain – .235/.322/.382, 3 HR in 102 AB
Alex Ramirez – .299/.324/.488, 10 HR in 244 AB
Scott Seabol – .216/.281/.352, 4 HR in 125 AB
Fernando Seguignol – .165/.248/.320, 4 HR in 97 AB
Rick Short – .230/.279/.294, 1 HR in 126 AB
Terrmel Sledge – .259/.356/.532, 9 HR in 139 AB

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.