Chad Billingsley trying to avoid Tommy John surgery

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Chad Billingsley was ruled out for the season a while ago, but the Dodgers right-hander is trying to determine if he’ll need Tommy John elbow surgery and the 12-18 month recovery timetable that comes with it.

Billingsley has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, but was able to play catch regularly for the past week and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that he “now will ramp up to see if the ligament can withstand the rigors of pitching.”

Any hope that Billingsley can avoid going under the knife and continue to pitch effectively with a partially torn elbow ligament stems from his receiving two different platelet-rich plasma injections that are intended to aid the healing process.

After a very disappointing 2011 season Billingsley bounced back with a 3.55 ERA and 128/45 K/BB ratio in 150 innings before being shut down in late August. He’s under contract for $11 million next season and $12 million in 2014, with a $14 million option or $3 million buyout for 2015.

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.