Mike Trout is now qualified for the batting title, ranks second

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Not only did Mike Trout go 6-for-9 with two doubles and four runs in back-to-back wins over the Giants the past two nights, in doing so he logged enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title (and other leaderboards).

Trout, who spent the first three weeks of the season at Triple-A, now ranks second in the league with a .338 batting average, trailing only Paul Konerko at .354, and he also ranks third in on-base percentage (.397) and fifth in OPS (.925) while leading the league with 19 steals.

Toss in his excellent outfield defense and even with missing the Angels’ first 20 games Trout ranks third among AL position players in Wins Above Replacement behind only Josh Hamilton and Adam Jones. He’s very much a legitimate early MVP candidate despite playing around two-thirds of the schedule.

Not bad for a guy who doesn’t turn 21 years old for another six weeks.

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.