Italian Sausage Wins, and other observations from Maryvale Park

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Like I said: they have a bit of Milwaukee here:

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It was a nice enough day, though a little sleepy. The Brewers have so many people away at the WBC that even their home lineup looked a lot like a road lineup for most spring training games. Something called Scooter Gennett led off. Because every single Brewers first baseman since Cecil Cooper is injured, Alex Gonzalez played first base — and made some sweet plays there. The always-intimidating Khris Davis hit cleanup. As I’m typing this it’s tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh. The most notable event involved an apparent injury to Dbacks’ leadoff hitter Tony Campana, who stole second base in the first inning and left the game when he was apparently spiked.

Beyond that: not the sort of game where you could tell anything about either team. It seems like we’re getting more of those as the WBC gears up and players are realizing that they still have over three weeks of spring training to get through. The initial enthusiasm has waned a bit.

But it’s still baseball. And in my last full day here tomorrow I plan to take in two more games. One as press, one as a fan. With the expected reports to follow.

OK, they just did the seventh inning stretch. Easily the most enthusiastic crowd participation since I’ve been here, followed by the de riguer “Beer Barrel Polka.”  So not everyone is flagging.


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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.