Report: Albert Pujols could return around the All-Star break

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Albert Pujols is not like you and me.

In a stunning development, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Albert Pujols’ fractured left wrist has shown “significant improvement,” which could enable him to return “immediately after the All-Star break, if not before.”

After receiving “aggressive treatment to promote healing of the bone,” Pujols underwent a follow-up CT scan Friday, which found a diminished fissure on the distal tip of his left radius. He’s scheduled to be reexamined Monday and barring something unforeseen, it is expected that he will be cleared to resume baseball activities immediately.

When Pujols fractured his wrist on June 19, he was originally expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, but Strauss writes that the “best-case scenario” is that he could return during the Cardinals’ upcoming four-game series against the Diamondbacks, which begins next Thursday. It’s more likely, however, that they hold him out through the All-Star break. Still, I’m pretty sure the Cardinals won’t mind waiting a few extra days if it means they can have their first baseman (and occasional third baseman) back to make a second-half playoff push.

Pujols, who is set to become a free agent this winter, is hitting .279/.355/.500 with 17 homers and 45 RBI over 318 plate appearances this season. He was batting .317 with eight homers and a 1.197 OPS in June prior to the injury.

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.