Carl Crawford almost ready to begin facing live pitching

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An update here on the Dodgers’ Carl Crawford.

According to beat writer Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Crawford is throwing at a distance of 90 feet and taking regular swings off a tee at the Dodgers’ spring training complex in Arizona without any pain or discomfort in his surgically-repaired left elbow.

Crawford hopes to begin facing live pitching within the next couple of days and told reporters on Tuesday afternoon in camp that he is “confident” he will be ready for the beginning of the 2013 regular season.

Crawford has batted just .260/.292/.419 with 14 home runs, 23 stolen bases and 75 RBI in 664 plate appearances since signing a seven-year, $142 million free agent contract with the Red Sox before the start of the 2011 campaign. The 31-year-old outfielder was traded to Los Angeles last summer.

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.