Astros demote Brett Wallace, call up Brandon Laird

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Brett Wallace was the Astros’ Opening Day first baseman, but after going 1-for-24 with 17 strikeouts he’s headed back to Triple-A.

Wallace is already 26 years old and has logged nearly 1,400 plate appearances at Triple-A, so he’s running out of time to stick in the majors. He’s hit .304 with an .860 OPS at Triple-A, but just .243 with a .682 OPS in 239 games in the majors.

To replace Wallace on the roster the Astros called up Brandon Laird, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees last September. Laird, like Wallace, is a first baseman/third baseman, and the 25-year-old was off to a great start at Triple-A hitting .353 with a .932 OPS in 12 games.

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.