Cubs activate Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood from DL

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Chicago’s pitching staff is getting a big boost today, as the Cubs activated both Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood from the disabled list while sending Randy Wells and Scott Maine back to Triple-A.

Dempster has been out since April 18 with a quadriceps injury, while Wood has been sidelined by a shoulder injury since April 14.

Earlier this week manager Dale Sveum indicated that he might work Wood back into the late-inning mix somewhat slowly, perhaps giving him some appearances in the sixth- and seventh-innings as opposed to his usual eighth-inning role.

Dempster will return with a start this afternoon versus the Reds in Cincinnati, where he pitched for two seasons before joining the Cubs in 2004.

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.