Nine days after signing Luis Castillo to a minor-league contract following news that Chase Utley would begin the season on the disabled list the Phillies have released the veteran second baseman.
Castillo got off to a slow start after reporting to Phillies camp, but notched two hits Saturday and two hits with a stolen base Tuesday. He appeared to be in line to not only make the roster, but perhaps even start in place of Utley on Opening Day. So much for that.
Because his minor-league deal wasn’t guaranteed the Phillies aren’t out any money and now Castillo is a free agent again, free to sign with any team for any amount with the Mets on the hook for his entire $6 million salary. He’ll probably have to settle for another minor-league deal and prove himself at Triple-A.
Earlier this week Utley offered no timetable for his return and said only that returning before the All-Star break was his goal, but the Phillies are apparently comfortable going with light-hitting utility man Wilson Valdes as their primary second baseman. Josh Barfield is another in-house option if they decide to call him up from Triple-A and Philadelphia also signed infielder Kevin Frandsen to a minor-league deal yesterday.
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.
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.