Rocco Baldelli rejoins the Rays and homers in his first at-bat

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Rocco Baldelli began this season as a minor-league coach in the Rays’ system and then officially started his comeback as a player in mid-July, playing 23 games between high Single-A and Triple-A before a call-up to Tampa Bay when rosters expanded last week.
And yesterday his second stint with the Rays kicked off with a two-run homer on the first swing of his first at-bat. Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times notes that Baldelli also homered in his last at-bat for the Rays, going deep in Game 5 of the World Series in 2008.
Because of his various injuries and health problems Baldelli is no longer capable of being an everyday player even if his skills warranted it, but he’s also still just 28 years old and could thrive as a backup outfielder or platoon starter against left-handed pitching. He’s definitely someone to root for.

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.