Phil Hughes feels “good” after first throwing session Friday

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Phil Hughes is still several weeks away from rejoining the Yankees, but he moved one step closer to returning to the mound by playing catch prior to last night’s game against the Red Sox.

Hughes told George A. King III of the New York Post that he felt “good” after making 30 throws from a distance of 60 feet. He is expected to play catch again today and tomorrow before being reevaluated. Hughes has also been cleared to resume weight lifting and arm strengthening exercises.

The Yankees placed Hughes on the disabled list on April 15 with what was technically termed as right shoulder inflammation. The cause of his velocity drop remains a mystery, but his arm has responded well following a recent cortisone shot. Still, he’s unlikely to return to the Yankees until mid-June.

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.