Josh Hamilton will continue tossing balls to fans

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Shannon Stone tragically fell to his death on July 7 at Rangers Ballpark while trying to catch a baseball for his 6-year-old son Cooper. The ball was thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton, who later told reporters that he remembers the incident as though it was in slow-motion and could hear Cooper screaming for his father.

Hamilton wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t deeply affected by such a horrible accident and nobody would blame him if he never threw another baseball into the stands. However, Shannon’s mother, SuZann Stone, told the New York Times Magazine earlier this week that she wrote a letter to the 2010 AL MVP asking him to continue tossing balls to fans.

“I just didn’t want him to stop,” Stone later told the Associated Press. “How sad that would be because that’s what little boys and their daddies go for. This was just an accident.”

Via Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Hamilton released a statement earlier today saying that he intends to honor SuZann’s wishes.

“My intent will continue to be to toss baseballs to fans in the stands. However, I am also very mindful that this needs to be done in the right circumstances. Giving away baseballs during a game is an important part of how we interact with our fans. I assess each situation to make certain it is done safely. I appreciate the comments by Mrs. Stone and my prayers are with the Stone family.”

Cooper Stone threw out the first pitch of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rays and the team plans to unveil a statue in honor of Shannon next year.

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.