Kendrys Morales: “My goal is to be ready by Opening Day”

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Kendrys Morales hasn’t played since breaking his ankle on May 29 of 2010 and is four months removed from a second season-ending surgery, but it sounds like the Angels first baseman is finally making significant progress in his comeback.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Morales is “walking without a limp” and manager Mike Scioscia described him as “bouncing around more than we anticipated.”

His rehab has advanced to “walking vigorously” on a treadmill and lifting weights, and Morales explained that his “goal is to be ready to go by Opening Day.”

Of course, that was his goal going into spring training this season as well and instead he suffered various setbacks and was finally shut down again, opening the door for Mark Trumbo to emerge as an everyday player and middle-of-the-order slugger in his absence.

At this point it’s tough for the Angels to count on Morales as a key contributor in 2012, but in his last 203 games prior to the injury the switch-hitter batted .302 with 45 homers, 48 doubles, and a .901 OPS.

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.