Didi Gregorius announces his return with homer in first at-bat

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Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius homered on the first pitch he saw this season, a Phil Hughes fastball that went into the Yankee Stadium stands in left-center. A week later Gregorius was hit in the head with a Josh Outman fastball and had to go on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Gregorius was activated for today’s game, the series finale in San Diego. As if on cue, the 23-year-old homered in his first at-bat back, taking an Edinson Volquez sinker out to right field. In 30 plate appearances, Gregorius was carrying a .407/.448/.778 line up until he was injured, and has only improved that with his performance today against the Padres.

The D-Backs acquired Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds in a three-way trade in December and he was rated the #63 overall prospect by MLB.com heading into the 2013 season.

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.