Little Sarge wants to hit leadoff

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Gary Matthews, Jr. hit leadoff in an intrasquad game yesterday, and he liked it:

“Just the ability to switch hit, I’m comfortable taking pitches and
obviously I’ve done it and had success in Texas. Hitting leadoff is where I’ve had my most success, so it’s where I’m
most comfortable.”

Given his struggles in recent years the notion of sticking Matthews at the top of the order seems kind of nuts, but Matthews is right that he’s had most of his success at the top of the order. His career OPS is slightly higher batting third (.802) than leadoff (.792), he’s got three times as many plate appearances at the top of the order.

I wouldn’t hit him leadoff — if I’m Jerry Manuel I try to limit his plate appearances as much as possible while praying to the deity of my choice that Carlos Beltran gets better quickly — but it’s not like there are a ton of other options there, especially if Manuel follows through with his plan to bat Reyes third.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a 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.