You can vote on Kevin Youkilis' Opening Day facial hair … seriously

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Youkilis headshot.jpgAw, crap.  Alex Speier of Boston-based WEEI.com passes along word that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is throwing together a charity-backed vote to decide the style of his Opening Day facial hair.  The choices are: goatee, mustache, fu manchu or clean shaven.

The $1 to vote benefits underprivileged children in the Boston area, which seems like a great and worthy cause, but it’s times like these when we here at HBT most crave the start of the regular season.  We want to write about dingers, man, not mustaches. 

Anyway, if you want to take part and help a great charity, head on over to Youkilis’ Hits For Kids website for more information.  The Red Sox open their season April 4 against the Yankees.

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.