Cardinals won’t make Matt Holliday switch positions

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The St. Louis Cardinals will not be moving Matt Holliday to right field to make room for Lance Berkman, manager Tony La Russa said on Sunday.

La Russa’s statement came at a press conference shortly after Holliday stated publically he would like to know if he would be switching from left to right field for the 2011 season. Holliday said he was willing to switch, but would like to know so he could prepare himself, “just for repetitions sake.”

But La Russa made it clear that Berkman would be the team’s right fielder.

“Lance will make the routine play out there, there’s no doubt in my mind,” the manager said. “That’s where he’s going to play, and Matt doesn’t have to make a change.”

This could be an adventure. Holliday is a very good defensive left fielder, ranking fourth in UZR at his position in 2010, so it makes sense to keep him where he is.

And Berkman, 35, has reportedly lost 20 pounds to prepare in anticipation of a return to the outfield. But while Berkman has played 963 games in the outfield, including 166 in center field, none of those games have come in the last three seasons, and he never graded out well defensively as an outfielder anyway.

But La Russa, never one to succumb to conventional thinking, refused to entertain the notion that the Cardinals will be giving up defense to put Berkman’s bat in the lineup.

“We’re not giving up the routine play, that’s what you worry about,” La Russa said. “He’s got a hell of a bat and he’s going to be an average, at least, outfielder.

“I don’t feel like we’re conceding anything.”

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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.