Ryan Braun: I’m feeling “better than I’ve ever felt”

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All-star outfielder Ryan Braun gave the Brewers a big scare Saturday when he left the club’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks with a strained intercostal muscle.

It turns out he’s going to be just fine.

According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Braun actually suffered the injury while shagging fly balls against the outfield wall during pregame warmups. He felt healthy enough to start the game and only came out in the first inning as a precaution.

Braun spoke to McCalvy on Sunday afternoon and reported feeling not only “fine,” but also better than he has ever felt in his entire life.

“It’s nothing at all,” Braun said. “I could have played [Saturday] but there’s no sense in it. Honestly, I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life, so I don’t really need at-bats right now. There’s no doubt in my mind I’m better than I’ve ever been at baseball, so nothing positive comes from the rest of these Spring Training games. I don’t need at-bats. I feel great. So there’s no reason to take a chance right now.”
Braun is likely to sit out for the next week or so, but he can get his timing right in late March before the start of the regular season and be a healthy member of Milwaukee’s Opening Day starting lineup. The 27-year-old has immense natural talent and is certainly capable of backing up that “better than I’ve ever felt” talk. He has a .918 career OPS and 128 career home runs as a four-year major leaguer.

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.