Michael Young makes first start at shortstop since 2008

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As much of an advantage that it’d seem to be for the Rangers to avoid the Yankees and play the ALDS at home, they’re not taking the final three games especially seriously.

On Monday, they pulled C.J. Wilson after two innings to keep him in line to start Friday’s Game 1, and tonight, they’re giving Michael Young his first start at shortstop in three years.

Young was the AL Gold Glove winner at shortstop in 2008, but the Rangers moved him to third base the next year to make room for Elvis Andrus anyway.  This year, Young has started 39 games at third, 36 at first and 14 at second.

The Rangers probably wanted to give Young a game at shortstop just in case they needed him there in the postseason, particularly in the World Series.

With Young at shortstop, Andrus is making his first career start at DH.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.