Ryan Madson is “ahead of schedule” in his Tommy John surgery recovery

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Ryan Madson is expected to be the Angels’ closer if he’s healthy for Opening Day following Tommy John elbow surgery that wiped out his entire 2012 season and general manager Jerry Dipoto says the right-hander is “on or ahead of schedule.”

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that Madson threw off a mound Monday for the first time since going under the knife and “will continue throwing twice a week until spring training begins.”

Dipoto described the Angels as “encouraged” by Madson’s progress, so it certainly sounds like he’ll be ready for spring training barring any setbacks. Madson, who had the surgery last April after signing a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds, got $3.5 million plus incentives from the Angels.

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.