Rays leave Dioner Navarro, Jeremy Hellickson, and Willy Aybar off playoff roster

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Opening Day catcher Dioner Navarro, part-time designated Willy Aybar, and rookie phenom Jeremy Hellickson are all absent from the Rays’ playoff roster, with struggling starter Jeff Niemann and outfielders Rocco Baldelli and Desmond Jennings making the cut in their place.
In fact, Baldelli will actually start at designated hitter against Cliff Lee in Game 1, which is pretty remarkable for a guy who was literally coaching in the minors a couple months ago. Baldelli totaled just 24 at-bats with the Rays, hitting .208, but he’s a career .295/.346/.485 hitter versus lefties.
Niemann lost out to Wade Davis for fourth-starter gig by posting a 7.69 ERA in 11 starts after the All-Star break, but he’ll be used as a long reliever in the ALDS. Not exactly a crucial role, but it does seem odd that the Rays would choose Niemann over Hellickson, who went 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 33/8 K/BB ratio in 36.1 innings after being called up in August.
Navarro was the Rays’ starting catcher in the first and last game of the regular season, but is third on the depth chart behind rookie John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach. Aybar was the Rays’ starting designated hitter for much of the season, but never actually produced at the plate. Joe Maddon indicated that he liked Jennings’ value as a pinch-runner more than Aybar’s value as a pinch-hitter.

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.