Billy Butler: Zack Greinke “didn’t want to be here”

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While Billy Butler told Matthew Leach of MLB.com that he had no ill will towards his former teammate Zack Greinke, he sounded downright relieved that the team wouldn’t have to begin the 2011 season with a distraction.

“There’s no surprise,” Butler said Monday. “This has been a controversy ever since Zack had that article that came out and he was wanting out. Whenever you do something like that, the organization has no choice but to trade you. I’m just happy that its behind us now, because if it would have kept lingering on any longer, I think it would have affected the team.”

“You don’t want somebody to be somewhere they don’t want to. That being said, Zack made it public that he didn’t want to be here anymore. As the Kansas City Royals, you don’t want that around. It’s not good for your team. I hope it works out for Zack in Milwaukee. I think we got some great pieces that came over.”

It’s nice to see Butler, who has essentially inherited the role of “face of the franchise,” come out and talk so bluntly about this issue. While we can debate about whether the Royals got enough in return for Greinke, it was pretty clear from Butler’s comments that, similar to the Johan Santana situation in early 2008, something had to be done before spring training.

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.