Baseball to seek increased discipline for off-the-field incidents

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In the wake of baseball’s sixth DUI arrest this year, a spokesman for Major League Baseball said today that the league will attempt to seek the option to discipline players involved in off-the-field cases — like DUI — when labor contract talks begin after this season.

“Right now what we do with the union is a result of informal understandings, there’s nothing in the agreement,” Courtney said. “The team or commissioner could discipline an employee for off-duty misconduct. Frankly, with alcohol abuse, our approach has been one more of making sure the players get adequate help to keep their careers on track as opposed to pure discipline.”

And that part of it — making sure players get help — is important and should not go away.  But baseball and the union should find some means to create a greater deterrent than currently exists for this sort of thing.

The key: that some sort of enhanced discipline regime not be taken too far and, say, players start getting disciplined for mere p.r. gaffes like social media behavior or what have you.  Rather, that it be reserved for acts that are truly serious and/or criminal in nature.

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.