Corey Hart’s status for Opening Day in doubt after knee surgery, head stitches

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Corey Hart underwent knee surgery three weeks ago and then needed eight stitches after hitting his head while lifting weights last week, and today the Brewers right fielder admitted that he may not be healthy by Opening Day.

Hart, who’s scheduled to resume playing in minor-league games Wednesday, told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he hopes to be in the lineup by the Brewers’ second or third series even if he begins the season on the disabled list.

By playing in minor-league games now instead of major-league games Hart’s stint on the DL can be backdated, allowing him to return before the usual 15 days, so clearly the Brewers aren’t anticipating a lengthy absence.

Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki figure to gain the most playing time while Hart remains out.

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.