Kyuji Fujikawa replaces Carlos Marmol as Cubs closer

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As first reported by Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have made a change at closer.

Kyuji Fujikawa, who was signed to a two-year, $9.5 million free agent contract this winter after spending the last 12 seasons in Japan, will be Chicago’s new ninth-inning man. He struggled mightily in Saturday night’s late loss to the Braves, allowing three earned runs in the eighth inning, but the Cubs still feel that he will be a big upgrade over Carlos Marmol.

Marmol has surrendered six hits, two walks and five earned runs over 1 2/3 innings this season. He will serve as a mop-up man until he gets himself right.

If Fujikawa can’t cut it, the Cubs will probably try either Shawn Camp or James Russell next.

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.