Cliff Lee “was trying to hurry” through his first rehab start before rain washed it away

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Phillies ace Cliff Lee began a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday at Single-A, throwing two innings in a shorter-than-planned outing that was halted by rain.

In fact, Lee’s start never officially happened because the game was eventually suspended. But before rain washed everything away the rehabbing left-hander tossed two scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing one hit.

And via John Perrotto of CSNPhilly.com, Lee told reporters afterward:

I felt fine. I threw two cutters and everything else was a fastball. You could see the weather coming, so I was trying to hurry. It’s another step in the right direction.

Lee has been out since mid-May with a strained elbow, so even if Mother Nature abides he’ll need at least a couple more rehab starts before the Phillies feel comfortable putting him back into the rotation.

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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.