Noted sports orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum has died

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According to the Los Angeles Angels, Dr, Lewis Yocum, one of the most notable sports medicine practitioners there was, has died.

An orthopedist who followed in the footsteps of Dr. Frank Jobe — the first man to perform Tommy John surgery — Jobe had been the Angels team doctor for many years. In addition, he has performed surgeries and consults for many other teams and players. After Jobe and Dr. James Andrews, Yocum was easily the most commonly-referenced and best known doctor in baseball circles, be it for the surgeries he performed, the second opinions he offered — he was many a fan’s last hope after dire news was reported following a visit to Andrews — or for, sometimes, being involved in a bit of controversy when it came to how best to proceed for a rehabbing pitcher.

Sports medicine has come a long way since the days of trainers telling sore-armed pitchers to rub some dirt on it and get back out there. Guys like Yocum are the reason why.

Bud Selig has released a statement:

“Dr. Lewis Yocum was a giant in the field of sports medicine.  He was an invaluable resource to not only the Angels franchise but players throughout all of Major League Baseball, team physicians and the members of the Professional Baseball Athletics Trainers Society.  All of our Clubs relied upon Dr. Yocum’s trusted opinion and judgment.  Throughout the last 36 years, the lives and careers of countless players benefited from his pioneering expertise, and he made our game on the field better as a result.  On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife Beth, their children, their friends and his many admirers.”

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.