The Rangers will activate Nelson Cruz on Monday

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MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan is reporting that the Rangers will activate outfielder Nelson Cruz in time for Monday’s Game 163 against the Rays. Cruz finished serving his 50-game suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Cruz left with an .841 OPS in 452 trips to the plate, ranking among the more productive outfielders in the league. Had he not been suspended, he almost certainly would have hit another seven home runs to surpass his career-high of 33. The Rangers acquired Alex Rios from the White Sox on August 9 to fill his shoes. Though Rios didn’t supply as much power, he added a speed dimension, stealing 16 bases in 17 attempts between his Rangers debut and the end of Sunday’s action.

Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels did not say if Cruz would be in the lineup, stating that the decision is up to manager Ron Washington.

Meanwhile, Cruz is excited to be back. From Sullivan’s article:

“We’re playing really good baseball, and the guys are excited,” Cruz said. “I’m excited, and I’m happy to be back and be with my teammates and play the game that I love.”

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.