Rangers put Josh Hamilton contract talks on hold after relapse

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The Rangers and Josh Hamilton were expected to do their best to get an extension done this spring, but those plans have changed now following Hamilton’s night out at a Dallas-area bar earlier this week.

GM Jon Daniels and Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, confirmed the decision to put talks on hold to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon this afternoon. Hamilton concluded his news conference on Thursday by saying, “It would be nice if it was talking about a contract, but we’ll put that on the back burner for a while.”

Hamilton, the American League MVP in 2010, is entering the final year of a two-year, $24 million contract and will be eligible for free agency for the first time after the season. Any long-term deal with him is going to be a risk. Even if one wants to discount his history of drug and alcohol abuse, there’s still the matter of injuries: the 30-year-old Hamilton has averaged 118 games per season in his five years in the bigs and there’s a real possibility he’ll be even less durable in his 30s than he was in his 20s.

One wonders how Hamilton’s relapse could have affected the Rangers’ talks with Prince Fielder had it happened a couple of weeks earlier. Might the team have been more willing to meet Fielder’s asking price and potentially let Hamilton walk at season’s end had they known what was coming? That’s not a question Daniels or Nolan Ryan figures to answer out loud anytime soon, but they’ve surely had the subject on their minds.

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.