The Big Hurt is about to hang 'em up

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The Big Hurt is ready to face reality:

Frank Thomas said he’s getting close to announcing his retirement,
and the 41-year-old slugger said he’s having fun being a member of the
media. The Chicago White Sox’s all-time leader in home runs, RBI and
runs, finished last season with the Oakland A’s and hasn’t been picked
up this season.

“That percent right now [that I’ll play again] is probably about
five percent, since we’re so deep into the season now,” Thomas said on
ESPN 1000. “But I’m still in shape, ready to go, if anything happens.
But I’m getting close to announcing my retirement because I just turned
41. I just want to make sure that it’s the move I really want to make.
I don’t want to be one of those guys that keeps coming back and keeps
saying, ‘I’m unretiring, I’m coming back.’ I want to make sure it’s out
of my system.”

Well, sort of face reality. I think baseball has more or less taken
care of the “retire/unretire” option for Thomas. Though he could still
probably be useful on an AL team, no one wants him (unlike Griffey, who
is probably less useful than Thomas, Thomas doesn’t have a home where
he can go and become a gate attraction), so the decision is pretty much
out of his hands.

Thomas will be an interesting Hall of Fame case. He should be a lock
on the numbers alone, but spending so much time at DH is gong to hurt
him with some voters. It’s less clear how the steroids era will effect
him. On the one hand he was outspoken against PEDs and helped lead the
charge to institute testing. And the media recognized him for that to
some degree. On the other hand, there’s a strong sense that all
offensive statistics — not just those of the PED users — were
inflated during Thomas’ career, so people may discount his
accomplishments even if they don’t consider them to be illegitimate in
and of themselves. That may be a little unfair and irrational, but if
you don’t think the BBWAA can be unfair and irrational, you’re not very
familiar with their work.

For what it’s worth, he’d have my vote.

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.