Brad Penny released by Japanese team after one start

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This offseason Brad Penny signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the SoftBank Hawks in Japan, but the two sides have already parted ways.

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker linked to a Japanese report that says Penny complained of shoulder soreness after a poor debut on April 4 and hasn’t pitched since, with team officials saying that he had trouble adapting to Japanese baseball and wanted to be let go.

It’s unclear how much of that $4 million Penny will keep, but his contract also included $3.5 million in potential incentives that are presumably now out the window.

Penny is 33 years old, apparently has a sore arm, and posted a 5.30 ERA with nearly as many walks (62) as strikeouts (74) for the Tigers last season, so odds are he’ll have trouble finding more than a minor-league contract back home.

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.