Travis Hafner could return to Tribe in late September

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“Pronk” has not been shut down. Yet.

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner got encouraging news about his strained right foot Wednesday after paying a visit to an “out-of-state” specialist who usually treats NFL players.

Hafner is still required to wear a protective walking boot, but recent signs of progress point to him avoiding the season-ending surgery that he was rumored to be considering last week. If his foot continues to heal and his rehab goes smoothly, the 34-year-old could be cleared to return to the major leagues for the last week or two of September.

Hafner was placed on the disabled list August 22 after straining his right foot while trying to leg out a double in an August 21 game against the Tigers. He’s batted .281/.364/.448 with 11 homers and 49 RBI in 82 games.

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.