Chris Carpenter throws two-inning simulated game

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Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter took a big step in the right direction Sunday, throwing two simulated innings to a group of teammates in camp.

Carpenter was diagnosed earlier this month with a bulging cervical disc in his neck and has not yet appeared in a Grapefruit League game. But he’s beginning to make progress and might not have to miss a turn in the regular-season starting rotation if he’s able to avoid setbacks from here on out.

“It was a good step,” Carpenter told reporters after Sunday’s workout, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was excited to get back out there and throw a little bit. Now we move on to the next step. Hopefully, I wake up good enough tomorrow and go out and do that again sometime soon.”

Carpenter will need at least three exhibition outings to get properly geared up for April.

The 36-year-old right-hander registered a 3.45 ERA and 191/55 K/BB ratio across a league-leading 237 1/3 innings last year for the Cardinals before going 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six postseason starts.

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.