Rangers, Neftali Feliz avoid arbitration with one-year, $2.9 million contract

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The Rangers and right-hander Neftali Feliz have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.9 million contract, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The deal includes $1 million in performance-based incentives.

Feliz, 24, was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. The Rangers have him under team control through 2015.

After pitching exclusively as a reliever over his first three seasons in the majors, Feliz was moved into the starting rotation last season and posted a 3.16 ERA and 37/23 K/BB ratio over 42 2/3 innings prior to being placed on the disabled list in May with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He attempted to rehab the injury at first, but eventually opted for Tommy John surgery in August. He’s expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2013 season, but the Rangers could bring him back sooner out of the bullpen.

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.