Scenes from Spring Training: The Giants are relaxed

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I got here just as the Giants’ clubhouse was opening.  What it lacks in luxury compare to the Diamondbacks’ palace out at Salt River, it makes up for in tranquility.  Bruce Bochy doesn’t need to bring in Navy Seals to teach the Giants how to deal with it. They’ve dealt with it.  They’re the champs and they know it.  Random observations:

Brian Wilson walked into the clubhouse right behind me. He was drinking a Starbucks and holding a folded USA Today.  I would have expected absinthe and some anarchist tract. Either his carrying of the symbols of the corporate bourgeoisie are part of an ironic put-on or else he’s not quite the loose cannon he pretends to be.

But don’t worry: Wilson was later seen giving an interview to a print reporter, sitting on a metal bleacher seat in a still-chilly stadium while wearing his underwear and t-shirt, so he’s still wacky.

The lineup had just been posted on the bulletin board. Miguel Tejada (batting third) and Travis Ishikawa (batting ninth) were looking at it. Ishikawa to Tejada: “Third? I thought that was for the best hitter on the team. What are you doing hitting third?”  Tejada to Ishikawa:”Not hitting ninth.”

It’s been written several times already, but seeing Pablo Sandoval up close really brings home how much damn weight he has lost.  He doesn’t merely look good for a fat guy. He looks good. And it’s not just fat. His shoulders and arms are fairly awesome. And it may or may not be worth noting that he love, love, loves to sing aloud and dance some to his iPod.

Tim Lincecum is starting today. He came in with a pony tail, wearing a vaguely Asian-looking sweatsuit/pajama thing and carrying an iPad in a battered leather holder. It was all very zen. How anyone’s iPad holder can be as battered as his so soon in the product’s life is a mystery to me. I can’t decide if Lincecum takes it rock climbing or if he pays a premium to some trendy boutique that pre-weathers iPad holders for well-heeled customers.

    A TV was on in the little room where players were eating breakfast. A report of Adam Wainwright’s Tommy John surgery came on.  Players watched the report silently. There was no singing and celebration. I just thought I’d get out in front of that one in case Hal McCoy is hanging around here and heard it differently than I did.
    For reasons I can’t really explain I watched Barry Zito stretching on the field. I feel obligated to note that he seems able to stretch his arm and shoulder way more than the other players can. This is important. This means something.

The best thing of all this morning? The grills are fired up here in the ballpark.  Beer is being dispensed. There’s a mediocre cover band committing atrocities of 1970s classic rock hits out on the concourse. It’s on, babies. A real baseball game between two teams.  In a little bit over an hour, pitches will be thrown in anger.

And all is right with the world.

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.