Drew Storen ready to face hitters following elbow surgery

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The last time we checked in on Drew Storen, he just resumed throwing off a mound following April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Now he’s ready to take the next step.

According to Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com, Storen is scheduled to throw live batting practice tomorrow for the first time since surgery. He’ll start out by throwing all fastballs. The 24-year-old right-hander threw his slider off the mound for the first time yesterday and estimates that he’s currently throwing at about 85-90 percent.

“I’m still making progress every day and I’m having no pain,” Storen said. “I’m starting to get the feeling that I felt before I got hurt, so I’m really happy with where I’m at, but it’s still a day-by-day process.”

Storen still has a few hurdles to cross, including a minor league rehab assignment, but the Nationals are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return around the All-Star break. Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez were each given chances to close games in Storen’s absence, but Tyler Clippard has emerged as a dominant closer recently, going 10-for-10 in save chances. The 27-year-old right-hander has logged 13 1/3 scoreless innings dating back to May 16.

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.