Astros tab Tony DeFrancesco as interim manager

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From Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle comes word that the Astros have promoted Tony DeFrancesco from his post as manager of the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks to the position of interim manager at the major league level.

DeFrancesco, who’s never managed in the bigs but served as the A’s third base coach in 2008, is filling the spot left vacant by Brad Mills’ firing. He has not been guaranteed anything beyond the 2012 season but told reporters Sunday morning that he wants to be “the guy who changes the environment out there.”

The Astros have also named Dan Radison as interim first base coach and Ty Van Burkleo as interim hitting coach after firing first base coach Bobby Meachem and hitting coach Mike Barnett alongside Mills late Saturday night. Houston enters play Sunday against the Diamondbacks with an MLB-worst 39-82 record.

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.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.