As expected, B.J. Upton is back in the starting lineup against the Twins on Saturday afternoon, according to Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times. He’ll bat sixth against left-hander Francisco Liriano.
It will be his first start since his heated argument with Evan Longoria in the dugout last Sunday.
Upton was mysteriously absent from the lineup against the Red Sox on Tuesday, possibly as a result of his actions on Sunday, but he later entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and tweaked his right quad playing defense in the ninth. He has been sidelined ever since, missing each of the last three games.
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.