Link-O-Rama: Shinskie goes from pitcher to quarterback

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* A fourth-round pick in 2003, David Shinskie has opted to retire from baseball at the age of 25 to compete for the starting quarterback job at Boston College. Shinskie led his high school team to the Pennsylvania state championship as a senior and has four years of eligibility remaining after the 6-foot-4 right-hander went 24-30 with a 4.61 ERA in seven seasons as a minor-league pitcher.
* Shaquille O’Neal probably won’t be switching sports like Shinskie. Shaq threw out the first pitch in St. Louis yesterday and the baseball looked more like a golf ball coming out of his hands, but the 7-foot-1 right-hander fired a strike.
* Justin Duchscherer finally looks ready to make his season debut following spring elbow surgery and could get the nod as soon as Friday against the White Sox. Duchscherer was 20 innings short of leading the league in ERA last season, so a couple decent outings could make him attractive to contenders looking for a last-minute addition.
* Alex Rios joined the White Sox yesterday, but didn’t play against the Mariners and couldn’t talk rookie Gordon Beckham into giving up No. 15. Rios will go with No. 51 instead.
* Signed to a minor-league contract last month in the hopes that he could provide the Twins with a viable alternative at second base down the stretch, Mark Grudzielanek was released Monday after going 8-for-30 with zero extra-base hits and two errors in eight games at Double-A. Twins minor-league director Jim Rantz explained that “it just wasn’t the right fit.” Grudzielanek had a slightly different take, saying that “they just wasted my time.” Sounds like both were probably right, especially now that Minnesota is 54-58.
* Derek Jeter is apparently clutch off the field too.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.