Marlins send former first-round pick Chris Volstad back to minors

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After 93 big-league starts, 2005 first-round pick Chris Volstad is still struggling to establish himself.  He was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday following an outing Friday in which he allowed four runs — three earned — in five innings against the Mets.

It’s the third straight season in which Volstad has received a midseason demotion.  In 2009, he was sent down on Aug. 29.  Last year, the move came on July 7.  This year, his ERA actually peaked at 6.07 on June 14, but the Marlins stuck with him then and he bounced back to go 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his final three starts of June.  July, unfortunately, was a different story, as he pitched six innings in just one of his four outings.  He heads back to Triple-A with a 5-8 record and a 5.58 ERA.

The Marlins have long had high hopes for Volstad, but he’s been one of the game’s worst regular starters since arriving in July 2008.  Only four pitchers have started at least 90 games the last four seasons and posted a worse ERA+:

1. Fausto Carmona – 80
2. Kevin Correia – 82
3. Zach Duke – 85
4. Livan Hernandez – 85
5. Volstad – 89
6. Joe Blanton – 91
7. Kyle Lohse – 91
8. Aaron Harang – 92
9. Carl Pavano – 94
10. Barry Zito – 95

Volstad is just 24, and it’s doubtful the Marlins are giving up on him.  Still, he’s now out of options, so they won’t be able to go back to this well again next year.  The Marlins will likely turn to Brad Hand as Volstad’s replacement in the rotation for now.

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.