UPDATE: Pirates minor leaguer suspended 68 games for HGH

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UPDATE: Shaikin adds that Clemens was suspended based on a “non-analytical” violation, which is the same situation we saw with the 14 suspensions from the Biogenesis scandal last year. The evidence could include things like documents, clinic records and shipping information.

8:01 p.m. ET: According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Pirates minor league right-hander Michael Clemens has been suspended 68 games for “possession and use” of human growth hormone.

Clemens, 21, was selected in the 16th round out of a McNeese State University back in June. He had a 1.00 ERA and 20/5 K/BB ratio over his first 18 professional innings as a reliever with the Pirates’ rookie ball team in Bristol, Virginia.

Why 68 games? Danny Wild of MiLB.com provides the explanation:

Under the rules of the new Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for Rookie and Short-Season leagues, a first violation receives a discipline of 80 games or the total number of regular-season games in the league, whichever is shorter.

And so, Clemens’ first pro season ends on a sour note and the suspension will roll over into 2015.

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.