Here are the starting lineups for tonight’s Game 5 of the ALDS:
TAMPA BAY RAYS TEXAS RANGERS
1. Jason Bartlett, SS 1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Ben Zobrist, RF 2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Carl Crawford, LF 3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Evan Longoria, 3B 4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Carlos Pena, 1B 5. Nelson Cruz, LF
6. B.J. Upton, CF 6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Dan Johnson, DH 7. Jeff Francoeur, RF
8. Kelly Shoppach, C 8. Bengie Molina, C
9. Sean Rodriguez, 2B 9. Mitch Moreland, 1B
Both teams have made some changes compared to the Game 1 lineups. Texas has benched Jorge Cantu in favor of Mitch Moreland at first base. Tampa Bay has replaced Rocco Baldelli with Dan Johnson at designated hitter while moving Ben Zobrist into the No. 2 spot and sliding B.J. Upton back into the No. 6 spot.
Josh Hamilton and Moreland are the only left-handed batters in the lineup against lefty David Price, while lefty bats Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Johnson are in there versus southpaw Cliff Lee.
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.