Bill Plaschke is waiting for Albert

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We know this, because that’s the refrain he uses to turn what should be a one sentence thing in a notes column — Albert Pujols has yet to hit a home run this year — into a full-blown column about a 54 at bat homerless stretch:

Waiting for Albert …

At 8:20 p.m., he steps to the plate in the fourth inning for his second at-bat, takes a strike, then lowers the bar to an entirely new level. He fouls a pitch that soars into the press box and lands at my feet. This meaning he has now hit more balls to me than over the fence.

In this Plaschke is correct: it’s all about him and his search for a column idea. Pujols doesn’t care, nor should he.  Nor should the Angels. Not yet anyway. Because as Plaschke himself notes in a column-nullifying sentence near the end, Pujols went 107 at bats without a homer last season at one point. And, in case anyone forgot, the season went just fine for Pujols and the Cardinals.

Call me in a few weeks if Pujols is still homerless. And if the Angels are still seven back of the Rangers, or more.

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.