Vernon Wells powers Yankees to victory

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Vernon Wells hit a two-run home run off of James Shields in the fifth inning of tonight’s contest against the Royals, a key component of the Yankees’ 3-2 victory. It was the eighth homer of the year for the Yankees left fielder, who entered the night with a .282/.333/.484 line.

The Yankees acquired Wells from the Angels on March 24, agreeing to pay $13.9 million of the $42 million left on his contract. Wells finished the 2012 season with 11 home runs and 29 RBI in 262 trips to the plate. He will eclipse both marks soon in roughly 100 fewer plate appearances. Brian Cashman is looking pretty good right about now, as his Yankees sit in first place atop the AL East, a game ahead of the Orioles and Red Sox.

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.