Carl Crawford takes batting practice against teammates, calls it “a step in the right direction”

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From Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

Carl Crawford faced relievers Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell on Tuesday, marking the first time he took live batting practice against major league pitchers since he was shut down two weeks ago.

“A step in the right direction,” said Crawford, who resumed working out last week.

Crawford began experiencing forearm tightness in late February that is thought to be related to the Tommy John reconstructive elbow procedure that he had last August. He told reporters after Tuesday’s live batting practice session that his timing with the bat “wasn’t as far off as I would expect it to be.”

Crawford is unlikely to be ready for the start of the regular season, but a mid-April Dodgers debut is possible if he avoids further setbacks. The 31-year-old outfielder was traded from Boston to Los Angeles last summer in the blockbuster deal that also saw Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto move west. Crawford inked a seven-year, $142 million free agent contract with the Red Sox in December 2010.

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.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.