Alexi Ogando’s struggles could get him bumped from the Rangers’ rotation

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Alexi Ogando was slated for the Rangers’ rotation, but after back-to-back poor outings–including an early exit yesterday that had coaches worried he might be injured–T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the right-hander could get bumped to the bullpen.

Ogando has served in a setup role for the Rangers previously with a lot of success, but Sullivan writes that this time he might be used in a long relief role because his spring training performance has been so shaky.

His appearance yesterday was particularly odd because Ogando took the mound in the fourth inning and threw a few warmup pitches, only to have the trainer, pitching coach, and manager Ron Washington come out to the mound. He was removed from the game amid worries that he had a blister, but afterward said that wasn’t the case.

So what was the deal, then? Washington told Sullivan: “We messed up and forgot to tell him he wasn’t supposed to go back out there. Blame it on me.”

Seems like kind of a flimsy explanation given the presence of the trainer on the mound, but either way things aren’t going well for Ogando right now.

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Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.