Chris Sale’s role on White Sox: Bullpen now, rotation in 2012?

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All the offseason and spring training debate about which role Chris Sale would fill for the White Sox has mostly been forgotten, as he’s remained in the bullpen all season while throwing 51 innings with a 2.81 ERA and 53/19 K/BB ratio.

Not quite as unhittable as he was as a rookie, but Sale has pretty clearly established that he can be a shutdown late-inning option, which is why manager Ozzie Guillen told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he’d like to keep Sale as a reliever.

However, while a role change is unlikely this season Guillen also revealed that general manager Ken Williams still “wants him to be a starter next year.”

Gonzales notes that Sale’s role may depend on whether impending free agent Mark Buehrle leaves the White Sox this offseason, in which case the 22-year-old lefty filling the rotation spot of the departing 32-year-old lefty would seem like an obvious fit. Guillen sounds open to that idea as well, but points out that the White Sox would need to “prepare him in spring training and the offseason” because he’s used Sale for more than 35 pitches just twice all year.

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.