Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz closer to returning for Red Sox

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It looks like the banged-up Boston offense will soon get a boost.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Jacoby Ellsbury, who is out for a third straight game tonight, likely will return to center field on Tuesday.

The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber also reports that David Ortiz will take batting practice and then have his heel examined to see if he permanently take the walking boot off his injured right foot.  He won’t return until Wednesday at the earliest and perhaps not until the weekend.

Finally, J.D. Drew, who last played July 20 before going on the DL with a left shoulder impingement, will begin his rehab assignment Friday with an eye towards a Sept. 1 return.

Unlike the other two, Drew won’t be welcomed back with an everyday job awaiting him.  However, with Josh Reddick slumping, Drew might be able to stake a claim to a piece of the right-field job if he impresses in the minors.  Reddick is hitting .226/.281/.358 with two homers and four RBI in 53 at-bats this month.

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.