Brandon Webb begins 'long, long road to recovery'

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Out since Opening Day with a strained right shoulder, Brandon Webb has been throwing off flat ground for several weeks and is scheduled to take the next big step in what Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic calls “his long, long road to recovery” with a bullpen session Friday.

Webb said yesterday that his shoulder “has been pretty good” while he’s
avoided any setbacks. “I feel like this past week, the last three times
throwing, it’s been real good,” Webb said. “I think it just keeps
progressing. We’re moving in the right direction. It feels better than
it’s felt since the season started.”

Of course, Webb’s struggles actually extend back to last year, when
he went 3-3 with a 5.70 ERA in his final seven starts after beginning
the season 19-4 with a 2.74 ERA. As for when he’ll be ready to rejoin
the Diamondbacks’ rotation, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes:
“Mathematically it’s probably still possible for Webb to make it back
before the All-Star break, but it seems far more likely that it will
come sometime soon after.”

Playing without their injured ace since Opening Day, the
Diamondbacks have disappointed all season while posting the league’s
second-worst record at 27-38 to bring up the rear in the NL West.
Arizona is 16 games behind Los Angeles in the division and eight games
behind St. Louis in the Wild Card race, so even if Webb makes it back
at some point next month it may be too late.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.