Ryan Madson plays catch, but return timetable is uncertain

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Ryan Madson played catch today, throwing for the first time since experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired elbow on February 1.

“He’s starting a progression of about 50 feet,” manager Mike Scioscia said, via the Associated Press. “He felt great after his last [session]. Until he can get out there and get in long toss we’re not going to know exactly where he is.”

Signed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal to serve as the Angels’ closer despite missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery, Madson has little chance to be ready for Opening Day even if he can avoid further setbacks. The good news is that an MRI exam showed no structural damage and Ernesto Frieri is perfectly capable of thriving in the ninth inning if needed.

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.