Pirates closer Jason Grilli deems himself “ready” to return

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Pirates closer Jason Grilli has been on the disabled list since April 21 with a strained oblique, but the right-hander deemed himself “ready” to return after throwing 24 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Travis Sawchik reports.

Grilli, of course, won’t just be activated like that; he’ll have to make a handful of rehab appearances, but if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, he could rejoin his teammates before the month of May expires.

Grilli blew two consecutive saves against the Brewers — both due to Ryan Braun homering — before the Pirates shut him down. In his absence, Mark Melancon has been handling closing duties and has done a great job, notching four of five saves with a 1.13 ERA and a 5/0 K/BB ratio in eight innings in his new role.

It’s unclear if the Pirates plan to reinsert Grilli into his previous role or wean him back into closing.

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.