Reliever Luis Ayala unharmed in kidnapping attempt

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Relief pitcher Luis Ayala, who is under a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was unharmed when gunmen stormed his house in Culiacan, Mexico, on Tuesday in an apparent kidnapping attempt.

Martin Robles, a spokesman for the state prosecutors’ office, said investigators believed Ayala was the intended victim, whom police prevented from being abducted.

Robles said gunmen in three vehicles forced their way into Ayala’s home near the city of Los Mochis on Monday by shooting open the door.

The assailants were apparently scared off when soldiers arrived at the scene after police received an emergency phone call. Ayala and his family were not hurt, though the pitcher was found handcuffed.

Ayala is 29-39 with a 3.67 ERA in six seasons with the Expos/Nats, Mets, Twins and Marlins.

This is just the latest is what seems to be a growing trend. In November, the mother of former pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped and later rescued, and last season, the son of catcher Yorvit Torrealba was also kidnapped.

Just last month Mets ace Johan Santana returned to Venezuela, but not without a security detail for he and his family.

You have to wonder at what point “going home” simply isn’t worth the danger anymore, for both the player and his family.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

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.