Lance Berkman cleared for rehab assignment, hoping to return Tuesday

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Lance Berkman told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart today that his surgically repaired left knee has “turned the corner” and he’s now scheduled to begin a brief rehab assignment tomorrow at Triple-A.
Berkman is expected to play two games in the minors and, barring a setback, hopes to come off the disabled list to rejoin the Astros’ lineup Tuesday against the Marlins. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage in his left knee on March 13.
“I’m glad to be making some progress and am finally good enough to go out and see how it does in a normal game,” Berkman told McTaggart. “I’m very hopeful.”
Geoff Blum and Pedro Feliz have been filling in for Berkman at first base, which in addition to being a massive downgrade offensively just helped cost the Astros this afternoon’s game against the Cubs thanks to a bone-headed defensive play by Feliz.

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.