How far is Albert Pujols behind his usual home run pace?

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Albert Pujols is finally showing some signs of life for the Angels, homering in back-to-back games after going deep just once through his first 36 games.

He’s still hitting just .214 with a .248 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage overall and obviously three homers in 39 total team games is shockingly little power for Pujols. But exactly how far is he behind his usual home run pace?

Here are Pujols’ homer totals through 39 team games in each of his 12 seasons:

2001     14
2002      5
2003      9
2004      9
2005     10
2006     19
2007      7
2008      7
2009     13
2010      8
2011      7
2012      3

Even after homering in back-to-back games Pujols is two homers short of his career-worst mark through 39 games, established way back in his second season. In the nine seasons between then and now he never hit fewer than seven homers through 39 team games and for his career Pujols has averaged 9.8 homers through 39 team games.

In other words, it was a good 48 hours but Pujols is still well behind where he’s always been at this point.

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.