Opening Day attendance down 3.4 percent

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BizOfBaseball.com’s Maury Brown crunched the numbers on the 30 different home openers this season and reports that attendance was down 3.4 percent compared to the same 30 home openers last year.
That amounts to an average of about 1,500 fewer fans per team, although as Brown notes some of that was inevitable because of the Twins moving to their new, lower-capacity ballpark.
Last year Minnesota drew 48,514 fans for the final home opener at the Metrodome, whereas this year the Twins drew 38,145 fans for the first home opener at Target Field.
However, those 38,145 fans represent a sellout at Target Field and that number also doesn’t include another 1,570 attendees that the Twins classified as media members, comped tickets, and VIP guests. In all, there were 39,715 people watching the Twins beat the Red Sox on Monday afternoon, which was a full house and then some.
I was one of those uncounted 1,570 at the game and there’s zero doubt that the Twins could have easily sold 50,000-plus tickets (and maybe a whole lot more than that) if they had the room. However, as Brown reports even if you remove the Twins’ new ballpark issue from the equation home opener attendance for the other 29 teams was down 2.6 percent compared to last season despite some pretty nice weather across baseball.

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.