Hip problem causing Red Sox’s delay signing Mike Napoli

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It’s now been three weeks since Mike Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox and no official announcement has been made, leading to lots of speculation about what might be causing the holdup.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Napoli “has a problem with one of his hips” which also “led the Mariners to back off their pursuit of him” earlier in the offseason.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has avoided any meaningful comments on the situation, saying stuff like “we’re working through some issues” when asked why Napoli remains unsigned, which Rosenthal speculates means the pre-signing physical exam revealed some red flags and Boston wants to re-work the language in his contract to lessen their long-term risk.

That’s similar to what the Red Sox did with J.D. Drew years ago, when they waited nearly two months to announce his signing and ended up putting a clause in his $70 million contract that protected them should his shoulder problems become a major issue.

For now at least there’s no indication that either side will try to back out of the deal completely.

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.