MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch is reporting that Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday or Friday this week. Teixeira, who turns 34 shortly after the regular season begins, is optimistic about the health of his surgically repaired wrist, though he did say recently that he expects it to be stiff throughout the year. He played in only 15 games last season.
Hoch adds that Michael Pineda will make his spring training debut on Friday. The Yankees’ big return in the Jesus Montero trade with the Mariners, Pineda has missed the entirety of the last two seasons due to labrum surgery in his right shoulder. In his only season in the big leagues back in 2011, he impressed with a 3.74 ERA over 28 starts, resulting in a fifth-place finish in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. The Yankees are hoping he can recapture that magic and earn a spot at the back of the starting rotation.
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 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.