Julio Borbon to start in center field for Rangers after rough spring

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Rangers manager Ron Washington said over the winter that he wanted to use Julio Borbon in center field this season in an effort to protect the injury-prone Josh Hamilton. Not a bad idea, really, but those plans appeared to be in doubt due to concerns about Borbon’s defense — he committed five errors this spring and was even pulled from a game at one point — and a recent elbow injury.

However, according to Bryan Doglin of ESPN Dallas, Washington has him in the lineup in center field for today’s opener against the Red Sox.

“I’ve always had confidence in him [Borbon]. Just working his butt off, man, trying to get better,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We know that we are going to have to continue to develop him. We believe in him, and I trust he is going to do what he is supposed to out there. The rest is up to Borbon.”

The funny part is that for all of scrutiny Borbon has taken for his defense this spring, UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) actually rated him among the game’s best in center field last season. Of most importance to today’s game, Borbon is in the lineup against Jon Lester, despite a measly .229/.274/.284 batting line over 124 major league plate appearances against southpaws.

It looks like the Rangers are going to give him every opportunity to sink or swim in center field in the early going, but if he stumbles, look for Hamilton to return to center field and David Murphy to play left field.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.