Rays start Dioner Navarro over Kelly Shoppach

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When the Rays acquired Kelly Shoppach from the Indians this offseason I wondered what type of role that left for Dioner Navarro, because while the two catchers could form a platoon Tampa Bay seemingly paid too high a price for Shoppach to play him just 2-3 times per week.
The jury is still out in terms of how the playing time behind the plate will ultimately shake out, but manager Joe Maddon announced that Navarro will start the Rays’ opener tonight. However, he added that the decision was based on the matchup against Orioles starter Kevin Millwood and doesn’t necessarily mean Navarro will get the nod again tomorrow versus fellow right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (or future right-handers).
Shoppach is a right-handed hitter who has crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .295 batting average and .999 OPS while hitting just .224 with a .704 OPS versus righties. That seemingly makes him a candidate to sit against righties in favor of the switch-hitting Navarro, except Navarro has an even lower career OPS versus righties and had the worst OPS of any AL hitter with at least 400 plate appearances in 2009.

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.