David Ortiz exits game with back spasms

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Here’s some potentially bad news for the reeling Red Sox.

Brian McPherson of the Providence Journal reports that David Ortiz left tonight’s game against the Blue Jays due to back spasms. Ortiz was in the original starting lineup as the designated hitter, but Jed Lowrie pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the first inning.

The good news is that Ortiz didn’t aggravate his heel injury from last month, but the Red Sox obviously can’t afford to be without one of their best hitters as they attempt to hold off the pesky Rays in the Wild Card race.

By the way, Tim Wakefield is currently making his eighth attempt at his 200th career victory. After the Red Sox scored two in the bottom of the first, Wakefield gave it right back by allowing a three-run homer to J.P. Arencibia in the top of the second inning.

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.