Michael Pineda goes four-plus innings in first rehab start

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It will be at least two more weeks before Michael Pineda finally joins the Yankees’ starting rotation, but the 24-year-old Dominican righty is already showing legitimate signs of readiness.

Pineda allowed just one (unearned) run over 4 2/3 innings on Sunday afternoon in his minor league rehab debut with High-A Tampa. Facing the Tigers’ High-A affiliate in Lakeland, Florida, he yielded only two hits and one walk while tallying four strikeouts.

Pineda was acquired from the Mariners in January 2012 for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi, but he suffered a shoulder injury that spring and underwent a major surgical procedure a few weeks later. His full rehab and recovery, assuming he suffers no setbacks, is going to wind up taking close to 14 months.

Pineda posted a cool 3.74 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 across 171 innings with Seattle in 2011.

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.