UPDATE: Junichi Tazawa visits with Dr. James Andrews

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Tazawa headshot.jpgUPDATE: Tazawa tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that there appears to be ligament damage in his elbow. He’s not sure about surgery, according to Lauber, but it “will be part of the discussion.” Doesn’t sound too promising.

Monday, 7:14 pm: Uh-oh. The Red Sox announced on Monday that Junichi Tazawa was in Birmingham, Ala. to have his right elbow examined by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. As Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the elbow bothered Tazawa during the second half of the 2009 season:

“He’s been dealing with some discomfort, some tightness, in the second
half of last year,” Farrell explained. “He went through a normal
offseason, didn’t have any issues, came into spring training, went
through every outlined throwing session that we had and there were
varying degrees of tightness or discomfort at different points this
spring. And then in games his velocity was not quite where it was in the
past and his breaking stuff was not as sharp. And even in his last
bullpen he felt there was a little bit of tightness. I wouldn’t say it
was further, or getting worse, but precautionary we wanted to send him
to see Andrews and get that evaluation.”

Tazawa, 23, was 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA, 2.05 WHIP and 13/9 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings with the Red Sox last season. We aren’t going to look too much into those numbers, though, as the young right-hander was 9-5 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 20 starts between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, showing plenty of promise and elite command. Hopefully this is just a mere bump in the road for him.
 

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.