It sounds like Tony La Russa will be back with the Cardinals next season

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According to the Associated Press, in speaking with reporters prior to Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers last night, Tony La Russa dropped some pretty strong hints that he will return as manager of the Cardinals next season. La Russa and the Cardinals have a mutual option for 2012.

“We don’t get into 2012, but I think it’s a fair comment to make: What’s happened to this club on the right-handed bullpen side is very exciting going forward,” La Russa said.

“Our focus is right now, we’re not talking about 2012 or anybody’s free agency,” La Russa said. “The nucleus of this club, I think it’s pretty well set. There are a lot of things that are for sure about next year’s club that I think make it literally an outstanding situation.”

See, if there’s anything that can keep La Russa going, it’s extra arms to play with in the bullpen.

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.