Joe Blanton: “There’s zero percent chance I’ll start this year”

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Joe Blanton may come back from an elbow injury to pitch again this season, but it won’t be as a starter.

Blanton told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that “there’s a zero percent chance I’ll start this year” because “there’s just not enough time” to build up his arm strength after missing the past two months.

Even a late-season return to the bullpen is far from a sure thing at this point and Blanton may need offseason surgery to “transpose” the nerve in his elbow.

According to Zolecki the operation would knock him out for around five months, so if it looks like he won’t be able to contribute as a reliever down the stretch the Phillies may decide he’s better off going under the knife now. Blanton, who started just six games before being shut down, is owed $8.5 million in 2012.

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.