Trying to squeeze something out of the A-Rod poker story

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It’s been funny watching the New York media trying to make something out of this A-Rod poker story.  They staked him out during his rehab workouts down in Tampa yesterday. They were told beforehand by Yankees officials that A-Rod wouldn’t answer questions about poker, and that if they asked, he’d leave.  They asked, he left. Headline from the Post: “A-Rod folds.”  Never change, New York Post. Never, ever change.

Thing is, there really isn’t anything new to be taken from this story.  There are competing allegations about whether or not he was at a poker game and Major League Baseball’s vow to investigate, and that’s it. Oh, and then there’s this little thing from the Post story:

Rodriguez also reportedly has played poker with tennis star Pete Sampras.

Which was immediately denied by Rodriguez’s PR people. But really, is that a salacious allegation? Is there a more milquetoast celebrity/athlete than Pete Sampras?  Heck, if I were making a list of athletes I’d let watch my kids for a weekend, Sampras would probably be in the top three. Maybe the top two now that Harmon Killebrew has died.  I’d worry more about him OD’ing on milk and cookies than anything else.

But if that’s where we are, what’s next?  “Rodriguez has reportedly played Crazy Eights with the guy who played Ralphie in ‘A Christmas Story'”? “Rodriguez has reportedly played Uno with Kirk Cameron”? “Rodriguez has reportedly played ‘Sorry’ with that Zachary Johnson kid from down the block, and none of the moms really like him”?

I know everyone wants there to be another A-Rod scandal because there isn’t anything much more fun than that, but really, this is all so weak.

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.