Reds are being “vague” about Joey Votto’s rehab status

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Joey Votto is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but the former MVP isn’t ready to return from a strained left quadriceps and there’s no official timetable yet for him to rejoin the Reds.

In fact, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer “the Reds have been vague–perhaps deliberately so–on a timetable with Votto” and manager Bryan Price said that “the protocols moving ahead are undecided.”

There was initially fear that Votto had suffered a significant knee injury, so the quadriceps strain definitely qualified as good news, but assuming that he’ll need at least a brief minor-league rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list it seems likely that Votto is at least a couple more weeks away.

Price has decided on backup catcher Brayan Pena as the primary first baseman in Votto’s absence, which is interesting considering Pena is a career .261 hitter with minimal power, poor on-base skills, and a lifetime .662 OPS. So naturally he’s hit .367 in 10 starts at first base so far.

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.