MLB releases the 2012 schedule

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Major League Baseball has announced the 2012 schedule this morning. The season begins on Wednesday, April 4.  It ends on Wednesday, October 3. In between: lots of baseball games.

There will be a single game at the Marlins new stadium — make that the Miami Marlins new stadium —  on the 4th, with the Cardinals coming in to visit. Presumably a prime time game.  There will be six games on Thursday the 4th and ten games on Friday the 5th.  The first day with a full slate of games will be Saturday the 6th.  Which means I won’t have a full night of red-eye-scanning box scores for “And That Happened” until Sunday evening the 7th.  Nice way to ease our way into things.

Weirdness: a full four-days off for the All-Star break. Games will resume on the Friday after the Midsummer Classic, not Thursday. Which makes a lot of sense. The press release says this about the interleague schedule:

 The 16th season of Interleague Play will feature many renewals of past World Series, including Reds-Yankees and Pirates-Tigers (starting May 18th); Mets-Yankees, Phillies-Orioles, Astros-White Sox, Blue Jays-Braves, Tigers-Reds and Rangers-Giants (starting June 8th) …

So for those Tigers fans who have been waiting since 1909 for some sweet revenge against the dreaded Pirates, you now have your chance! Vengeance shall be yours!

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.