Blue Jays abandon idea of turning Jeremy Jeffress into a starter

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In November, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Blue Jays were planning to move Jeremy Jeffress from the bullpen into the starting rotation. Two months later, Passan reports that the Jays are abandoning that idea, preferring to continue using Jeffress as a reliever.

Jeffress, now 26 years old, was drafted by the Brewers 16th overall in the first round of the 2006 draft. The Brewers initially used him as a starter but had him work as a reliever in a limited amount of playing time in 2010. After the 2010 season, the Brewers traded him to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal. In 2011, the Royals had him make 11 starts between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, as well as 14 relief appearances. Last November, the Blue Jays bought him from the Royals in a cash transaction.

In 27 1/3 innings as a reliever with Triple-A Buffalo last season, Jeffress posted a 1.65 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 13 walks. In a cup of coffee with the Jays as a September call-up, he did not allow a run in nine innings, striking out 11 and walking three. Clearly, there is still a lot of potential left in his arm.

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.