Nelson Cruz nearing return from disabled list

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Nelson Cruz headshot.jpgThe Rangers have mapped out a plan for the return of outfielder Nelson Cruz, or so says Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Cruz, 29, got off to a ferocious start this season, posting a .319 batting average, a .758 slugging percentage and seven home runs in 62 at-bats before suffering a hamstring strain.  The Rangers are obviously hoping he will jump right back on track once activated.  Cruz will be sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday to begin a rehab assignment and could be back with the Rangers as soon as Friday.

The slugger is eligible to return form the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, but the first-place Rangers would rather not rush him and risk further injury to the testy hamstring. 

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.