Rays clear room for Jeremy Hellickson’s return by shifting Erik Bedard to the bullpen

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After posting a 4.95 ERA in 15 starts for the Rays veteran starter Erik Bedard has been shifted to the bullpen to clear a rotation spot for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson’s return from the disabled list.

Hellickson has been recovering from January elbow surgery and made six minor-league rehab starts. He really struggled in five outings at Triple-A, going 1-4 with a 7.55 ERA, but Hellickson’s most recent start there was semi-decent and apparently the Rays are convinced he’s ready to start for them Tuesday against the Royals.

Hellickson won the Rookie of the Year award in 2011 and followed that up with an equally strong 2012, but he had a 5.17 ERA in 32 starts last season and has been anything but impressive rehabbing in the minors. Tampa Bay had the ability to activate him from the disabled list and option him to the minors, but is choosing not to do so.

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.