Pedro Alvarez debuts for the Pirates

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We’ve had a number of big-name rookie debuts this year. Heyward for the Braves, Davis for the Mets, Strasburg for the Nats, Stanton for the Feesh and now Pedro Alvarez for the Pirates.

The results? Bumpy but promising. Alvarez hit sixth and played third. He struck out swinging in his first at-bat, walked and scored in
his second and flew out to left his final time up.  Defensively he was a problem, as he committed one error and, according to Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com, let a handful of groundballs whiz by that probably would have been playable by others.

And that’s kind of the thing with Alvarez — he’s a first baseman, really, and I expect that he won’t stick at third any longer than, say, Miguel Cabrera or Jim Thome did.

But that aside, people were impressed by his approach last night, if not his results. Both Ozzie Guillen and John Danks praised Alvarez for having good at bats, meaning that he didn’t fall for or flail at the obvious stuff and, when he was retired, it happened on good pitches.  That’s probably about as much as you can ask.  

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.