O's send Josh Bell back to minors; call up Chris Tillman

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As expected, the Orioles have sent third baseman Josh Bell back to Triple-A Norfolk in order to make room for Saturday’s starter Chris Tillman.

As if facing the Rangers offense isn’t intimidating enough, Tillman will oppose the newly-acquired Cliff Lee, who is making debut with the club.

Tillman is 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA over four starts with the O’s this season. While he hasn’t found much success in the majors yet, the 22-year-old right-hander is 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 13 starts with the Tides this season. He’s coming off a complete-game one-hit shutout on Monday.

As for Bell, he didn’t play a whole lot since he was called up from the minors on July 1. He was 3-for-15 (.200) during his brief stay with the team. While he’s better off getting regular at-bats in the minor leagues, the 23-year-old told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he saw his first taste of the majors as a learning opportunity

“It is a good situation for me, regardless,” Bell said. “Because if I am
not playing, then I am watching and learning. And if I am playing,
well, that’s a great experience.”

Bell, who was acquired from the Dodgers in last July’s George Sherrill trade, was batting .266/.311/.455 with 10 homers and 44 RBI before getting the call from Triple-A Norfolk. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 2 prospect (and top position prospect) by Baseball America over the winter. Don’t be surprised if he is up for good later this season. 

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.