Mark McGwire to stay on as Cardinals hitting coach

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As expected, Mark McGwire has signed a one-year contract to remain the Cardinals’ hitting coach. Earlier today the Cardinals announced a two-year deal to retain pitching coach Dave Duncan, but the rest of manager Tony La Russa’s coaching staff was offered one-year pacts.

McGwire initially cast some doubt about whether he’d return for a second season as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, citing family reasons for possibly stepping away, but he’s back along with the rest of La Russa’s staff save for bullpen coach Marty Mason, who was let go after 25 years in the organization. La Russa himself signed a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2012.

In his first season on the job McGwire coached the Cardinals hitters to the sixth-most runs in the league, which was a slight improvement from their 2009 output. Colby Rasmus experienced a breakout season under McGwire’s watch and both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday did their usual mashing, but most of the other regulars struggled.

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.