Rich Harden to return from DL to start for Athletics on Friday

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No, this isn’t a dream. Rich Harden is about to pitch in a real live major league baseball game.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Harden will be activated from the disabled list to start Friday night against the Diamondbacks. In turn, Graham Godfrey will move to the bullpen to pitch in long relief.

Harden has been sidelined since spring training with a strained lat muscle, but has impressed over his first two minor league rehab starts with Triple-A Sacramento. He threw 4 2/3 innings in his last start Saturday, so Godfrey could theoretically piggyback him if the A’s have him on a pitch-count Friday.

This will be Harden’s first major league start since last September 29. He posted a 5.58 ERA and 75/62 K/BB ratio over 92 innings with the Rangers last season and was subsequently left off the playoff roster. Of course, Harden was originally drafted by the A’s in 2000 and posted a 3.42 ERA over parts of six seasons with the club. His injury history speaks for itself, but the A’s could use his upside while they wait for some of their other pitchers to return from the disabled list.

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.