Carlos Beltran will play for Puerto Rico in World Baseball Classic despite bruised toe

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Carlos Beltran suffered a bruised right toe Thursday when he was hit by a pitch in a Grapefruit League game and wondered aloud to reporters whether it might affect his ability to play for his native Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. It won’t.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Beltran is leaving Cardinals camp today to join up with his Puerto Rico teammates. He may be sidelined for the next few days, but the 35-year-old expects to be in the starting lineup when Puerto Rico opens pool play against Spain on Friday night.

Beltran hit .269/.346/.495 with 32 home runs and 97 RBI in 151 games last season for St. Louis. He is currently scheduled to become a free agent after the 2013 campaign.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

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.