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Must-read: Lorenzen’s first career home run was a tribute to his late father

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Reds’ reliever Michael Lorenzen hit his first career home run two days after his father died. An extraordinary feat for most pitchers was made even more poignant under unusual and heartbreaking circumstances; as Lorenzen told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, he had difficulty taking his place at the plate during the seventh inning of the Reds’ 9-2 finish. “Even after the third out of my first inning I threw, I had to go back into the bathroom because I broke down,” Lorenzen said. “There were some teammates back there that were able to help me out. I was able to go out and hit.”

It was a healing moment for Lorenzen and a touching one for those in attendance at Great American Ball Park, who later asked for a curtain call from the right-hander as he exited the game in the eighth. But the home run tribute also recalled Lorenzen’s complicated relationship with his father, one that the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan explored in depth this weekend.

Buchanan describes the tumultuous childhood that Lorezen and his older brother, Jonathan, experienced in the mid-1990s. There were car rides to youth baseball games, during which their father, Clif, would drink and drive. There were domestic disputes between their parents and, later, charges of grand theft and forgery that convinced Clif to abandon his family in 2004. Both Michael and Jonathan struggled to find some equilibrium after the departure of their father, struggles that culminated for Jonathan when he was charged with “lewd and lascivious battery of a minor” after allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl at the Dodgers’ spring training dorms.

The turnaround, Buchanan notes, arrived with Lorenzen’s newfound faith in God. Faith was the catalyst that spurred Lorenzen to reconcile with his father in the years before Clif’s death. Now, he believes that his home run gave some purpose to his father’s passing and inspiration to thousands who found themselves in similar situations.

You can read Buchanan’s piece, “In the Name of the Father,” in full here. It’s a heart-wrenching, beautifully-told story that captures the breadth and importance of forgiveness under the most difficult of circumstances.

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.