Jake Peavy’s uncertain status has Chris Sale preparing to be a starter in 2011

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Earlier this week White Sox general manager Kenny Williams indicated that he expects Jake Peavy to begin 2011 on the disabled list following shoulder surgery and Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that Chris Sale, who thrived out of the bullpen as a rookie, has “embarked on an offseason program designed for him to step into the rotation.”

Pitching coach Don Cooper has said previously that he’d prefer if Sale began 2011 in the bullpen again and gradually transitioned into starting during the season, but with Peavy looking unlikely to be ready for Opening Day and perhaps being out for the first several months of the season it makes more sense to have Sale starting from Day 1.

Cooper told Gonzales that the decision is ultimately the GM’s call, saying: “Whatever Kenny wants to do, we’ll do.” Barring a trade Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Edwin Jackson, and Gavin Floyd are locked in as the White Sox’s top four starters, leaving Sale or Tony Pena as the likely candidates for the No. 5 spot.

Sale made his big-league debut in early August, just two months after being the 13th overall pick in the draft, and tossed 23.1 innings with a 1.93 ERA and 32/10 K/BB ratio in 21 appearances, all out of the bullpen. However, the 6-foot-6 southpaw was a full-time starter in college and led the NCAA in strikeouts during his final season at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a 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.