Jake Westbrook may have missed the entire 2009 season due to Tommy John surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the map in Cleveland.
The right-hander clinched a “Celebrity Bracket Challange” over the weekend hosted by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, beating out local VIPs like the Browns’ Josh Cribbs, the Cavaliers’ Mo Williams and Kosta Koufos, a former Ohio State Basketball player. Westbrook’s bracket has only one Final Four team intact — West Virginia — but that’s enough to win most bracket challenges in what has been a wild NCAA Tournament.
For reference: Duke, Butler and Michigan State will be joining the Mountaineers in Indianapolis next weekend for college basketball’s biggest prize.
Westbrook’s prize for winning the Plain-Dealer’s bracket pick ’em? Well, we’re not sure. But the right-hander has compiled a 2-0 record and a 4.86 ERA in 16 2/3 innings of Cactus League play this spring and has recaptured his spot atop the Tribe’s starting rotation. That’s gotta be worth something.
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.
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.