Jim Thome out another month, may not play again this year

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Jim Thome is on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his neck and the 41-year-old designated hitter has been told that he’s at least 30 days from being cleared for baseball activities.

That means a mid-September return is now the best-case scenario and not playing again this season is a very real possibility. And with his 42nd birthday later this month that means not playing again, period, is also a very real possibility.

Thome has yet to say whether he plans to continue playing next season, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun thinks he dropped some pretty strong hints about continuing his Hall of Fame career within these quotes:

I don’t want to say yes, no. But you know what? This maybe changes my thinking a little bit. Maybe I do want to play a little bit longer. Again, I am trying to get back. I am not worried about next year. I think I’m trying to focus on this year, try to do the best to get back as quick as I can and to help us maybe accomplish and reach some special things here toward the end of September, through October. We’ll come to that once that time frame hits.

In other words, Thome doesn’t want to go out on the disabled list. And he remains an effective hitter, at least on a part-time basis, posting a .797 OPS in 150 plate appearances between the Phillies and Orioles.

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.