Hiroki Kuroda’s past neck problems “have resurfaced”

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Hiroki Kuroda failed to make it out of the fifth inning yesterday and afterward admitted that the neck problems he’s struggled with in previous seasons are once again an issue.

Kuroda downplayed the severity, telling Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that “compared to what it’s been in the past it’s very mild.” However, he’s allowed 12 runs in his last 16.2 innings and explained: “My front shoulder has been opening up too quickly and my release point is off.”

Hernandez notes that Kuroda is scheduled to make three more starts this season, and is seven innings away from earning a $175,000 bonus and 17 innings away from getting another $200,000 bonus. That’s plenty of incentive to continue pitching through the pain.

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.