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Rangers tab Cole Hamels to start on Opening Day

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Per John Blake — the Rangers’ executive VP of communications — on Twitter, the club has announced Cole Hamels as the Opening Day Starter. The news doesn’t come as any surprise, as the Rangers’ other ace, Yu Darvish, isn’t expected to return until mid-May as he’s still on his way back from Tommy John surgery. The Rangers host the Mariners on April 4 for a three-game set to open the regular season.

This will be Hamels’ third Opening Day start. The 32-year-old posted a 3.64 ERA over 20 starts with the Phillies last season before they traded him along with reliever Jake Diekman to the Rangers in exchange for starter Matt Harrison and five minor leaguers. In 12 starts with his new team, Hamels stayed consistent with a 3.66 ERA.

Hamels is under contract through at least 2018, earning $22.5 million in each of the next three seasons plus a $6 million buyout for 2019 if the Rangers decide not to pick up his $20 million club option.

Ramon Laureano’s suspension reduced from 6 games to 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano had a six-game suspension reduced to four games Friday after appealing the penalty for his role in a benches-clearing brawl with the rival Houston Astros.

Major League Baseball said a settlement had been reached and the A’s were informed of the decision. Laureano was set to begin the four-game suspension Friday night and will miss a three-game weekend Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. After sitting out Monday at Arizona, he will be eligible to play Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in the fracas at Oakland last Sunday. Laureano also received a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory – the third time he got hit in the series and the fifth time overall for an A’s batter. Houston players weren’t plunked at all. He pointed at Castellanos and began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two teams in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.