Former Red Sox ace Mel Parnell dies of cancer at 89

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Mel Parnell, who spent his entire big-league career with the Red Sox and led the American League in wins with 25 in 1949, passed away Tuesday at age 89 following a long battle with cancer.

Parnell’s 123 wins were the most by a Red Sox left-hander. Besides his 25-win season in 1949, he finished with 21 wins in 1953 and 18 in both 1950 and ’51. Known for his screwball, he hurt his arm in 1954 at age 32 and never pitched another full season, though he did pitch a no-hitter against the White Sox in 1956, his last year in the big leagues.

He talked about the no-hitter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2002:

This is something a pitcher dreams of. You never expect it to happen.

On that particular day, I had a very good screwball. My slider was working good. That gave me pitches that I could work in and out on hitters. I pretty much was able to get the ball right where I wanted it with each pitch, and things fell in line for me.

Parnell, who briefly worked as a Red Sox broadcaster in the 1960s, was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.

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.