Jon Niese to make Grapefruit League debut Tuesday

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From beat writer Adam Rubin of ESPN New York comes word that Mets left-hander Jon Niese has been cleared to make his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday against the Cardinals.

Niese came down with some left shoulder soreness at the end of February and was sent to New York for an MRI, but that exam showed no structural damage and he was able to throw two discomfort-free innings last Thursday morning in an instrasquad game.

If his health cooperates, Niese will start for the Mets in their regular-season opener March 31 against the Nationals. The 27-year-old old posted a 3.71 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 143 innings last summer.

Phillies sign Trevor Plouffe to minor league deal

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Infielder Trevor Plouffe has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Plouffe asked for and was granted his release from the Rangers earlier this month.

Plouffe, 31, had a double and a home run in 17 plate appearances with Triple-A Round Rock to start the 2018 season. He spent last year with the Athletics and Rays, putting up a meager .198/.272/.318 batting line in 100 games.

Plouffe has mostly played third base throughout his career, but can also handle the other three infield spots and both outfield corners, so he’ll serve as organizational depth at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the Phillies.