Cardinals’ first baseman Matt Carpenter won’t be joining Team USA when the World Baseball Classic kicks off on Monday. Club manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak confirmed the withdrawal, though the decision was left up to Carpenter in the days preceding the tournament.
The infielder had been taking things slow in camp this spring and was scratched from a spring training game on Thursday after experiencing tightness in his lower back. Now, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that the infielder is taking preventative measures to make sure the soreness does not spread to his oblique, especially in light of the right oblique injury that sidelined him through nearly a full month of the 2016 season. He’s expected to continue running defensive drills in camp, but won’t be swinging a bat for the remainder of the weekend and likely won’t appear in a game until next Friday’s match-up with the Nationals.
This would have been Carpenter’s first appearance in the World Baseball Classic. There was some chatter about his return to Team USA during the second round of the WBC, but as Rob Rains of Stlsportspage.com points out, that rule is exclusively reserved for pitchers. Instead, he’s scheduled to be replaced by the Pirates’ Josh Harrison, who will assume a utility role under the direction of Team USA manager Jim Leyland.
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.