Carlos Beltran is finally making some progress

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Last week general manager Omar Minaya revealed that Carlos Beltran is unlikely to return before the All-Star break, saying he had yet to resume baseball activities and would need 6-8 more weeks of rehab time once that happens.
Yesterday the injured center fielder said he’s currently running at about 80 percent and expects to begin playing extended spring training games next week, which indicates he’s now 6-8 weeks from rejoining the Mets if Minaya’s timetable is accurate.
When he does return Beltran may see some time in right field, with manager Jerry Manuel saying yesterday “that’s not out of the question” and “it would be something we have to entertain with him, how comfortable he is in a different spot.” By playing Beltran in right field the Mets would potentially save some wear and tear on his surgically repaired knee while also leaving Angel Pagan in center field where he’s played well.
Current right fielder Jeff Francoeuer would be the odd man out in that scenario, but he has little room to complain with a .251 batting average, .314 on-base percentage, and .393 slugging percentage in 53 games. Of course, given Beltran’s many setbacks and the Mets’ recent history with such things there’s obviously no need to cross that bridge any time soon.

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.