Braves third baseman Chris Johnson was removed from last night’s game against the Rockies after he threw a tantrum in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse following a strikeout in the second inning.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that pieces of a bat Johnson shattered hit both Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Gerald Laird, who were standing near the dugout steps. Gonzalez had “a few choice words” for Johnson and immediately replaced him with Ramiro Pena at third base.
Johnson said after the game that he apologized to his teammates and understands that he needs to keep his emotions in check.
“I play with a lot of passion,” Johnson said. “Every single pitch and every single at-bat, I hold in high regard. When things don’t go well, that is kind of my downfall. That is one of the biggest parts of my game I need to work on. One of the worst things I could ever do is hurt a teammate or something like that.
“This has to be it for me. I think it will get a point where people won’t think I’m truly sorry for doing it. It just looks selfish.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Johnson has displayed reckless behavior around his teammates. He got into a confrontation with first base coach Terry Pendleton last September after he threw his helmet in frustration and hit Pendleton with it. Johnson was also benched for two games last month after went on a rampage in the dugout.
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.
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.