Chris Hatcher: from catcher to major league pitcher in less than a year

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The Marlins’ Chris Hatcher made his major league debut last September as the team’s third catcher, going 0-for-6 in five games.  Today, he’s rejoining the team as a reliever.

Hatcher, a 2006 fifth-round pick, decided to make the switch to the mound after hitting just .197/.274/.283 in 354 at-bats between Double- and Triple-A last season.  He was a career .211/.290/.364 hitter in the minors, and even as a strong armed catcher, that’s not the kind of line that’s going to lead to much action in the majors.

So, Hatcher showed up this year as a full-time reliever and went 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA and a 39/15 K/BB ratio in 35 innings for Double-A Jacksonville, earning him his promotion today.  It’ll probably be a short-term assignment — the Marlins were able to send down Brad Hand and go to four starters with the All-Star break coming up — but the choice of Hatcher suggests the team sees a future for him in the major league bullpen.  He throws in the low-90s consistently, and he’s already come up with a halfway decent slider.  If he refines it, he might turn into a quality setup man in time.

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.