John Danks pleased with first outing since shoulder surgery

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John Danks returned to game action this afternoon for the first time since he required season-ending shoulder surgery last August. After limiting the Giants to one run — a solo homer by Joaquin Arias — over two innings, the 27-year-old southpaw expressed relief to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.

“This is the first hurdle,” Danks said. “Obviously the couple of weeks leading up to this was important. But the first game, get that out of the way and we really start focusing on the pitching side of things. Just excited to get back out there and see what kind of improvements I can make from now.”

Danks worked in the 85-89 mph range with his fastball while one scout described his stuff as “fair.” However, the White Sox aren’t focused on his velocity at this point, as he’s still in the process of building up arm strength. For what it’s worth, he has typically sat in the low-90s with his fastball during his career.

Danks owns a 4.12 ERA over six seasons in the majors, including a 5.70 ERA in nine starts last year. He is owed $14.25 million in each of the next four seasons.

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.