Francona: Marco Scutaro is our shortstop

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There has been some chatter lately about how Jed Lowrie could take over the Red Sox shortstop job from Marco Scutaro. Theo Epstein said as much himself last week. Terry Francona gave a press conference today, however, and he says nope, not happenin’:

“Scutaro’s our shortstop. (Lowrie) gives us something not a lot of teams can say they have. A switch hitter than can play first, second, third or short and play a lot. He can play for a week, he can play it for a day, he can play it or two weeks. That at some point is going to probably save us. How many times have you seen where everybody stays healthy?”

I assume that Francona has Scutaro’s health most closely in mind with that last comment.  He was hurt last year, he’s in his mid-30s, and he’s coming off a .275/.333/.388 season in which he played poor defense.  Lowrie, on the other hand, had a great season at the plate in an admittedly small sample size.

Francona may very well envision Lowrie getting a ton of time out there in 2011. But he has absolutely zero reason, from a clubhouse management perspective, to say anything apart from “Scutaro is our shortstop.”

 

 

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.