Orioles pick David Hernandez over Chris Tillman for final rotation spot

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Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that the Orioles have settled on David Hernandez as their fifth starter, sending 22-year-old Chris Tillman to the minors this afternoon.
One of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Tillman made his big-league debut in July of last season and went 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA in a dozen starts for the Orioles. He entered camp as the presumptive favorite for the final rotation spot and pitched reasonably well in five spring outings, but the potential benefits of some additional seasoning in the minors and a 20/3 K/BB ratio from Hernandez sealed his fate.
Hernandez went 4-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 101.1 innings as a 24-year-old rookie last season, but a mid-90s fastball and 618 strikeouts in 534.2 innings as a minor leaguer give him significant upside if his control improves. He’ll join Opening Day starter Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, and Brad Bergeson in the Orioles’ rotation, with Tillman waiting in the wings.

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.