Riggleman talks Capps, Guzman, and Dukes

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MASNSports.com’s Ben Goessling “caught up with Nationals manager Jim Riggleman” for an interview this morning and the lengthy Q&A session included some noteworthy tidbits:

  • Matt Capps will enter spring training as the clear favorite for closer duties, but Brian Bruney may also get some ninth-inning chances and Riggleman “might” use Eddie Guardado or Sean Burnett to close things out against “a strong left-handed lineup” because “all I want is to make sure we get the outs.”
  • Riggleman hasn’t spoken to Cristian Guzman about a potential move to second base since September, when the longtime shortstop made it clear that he was against a switch. If the Nationals sign a second baseman like Orlando Hudson they’d keep Guzman at shortstop, but barring that he’ll likely move to second base to make room for prospect Ian Desmond.
  • Elijah Dukes will “definitely” enter spring training as the starting right fielder, with Riggleman noting that “we need to put him out there every day.”

Riggleman also touched on a few other things, including how spring training with him will be different than spring training with former manager Manny Acta, so the whole interview is definitely worth reading.

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.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.