Twins to retire Bert Blyleven’s number

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2011 is going to be one big victory lap for Bert Blyleven.

The Twins announced Thursday night at their annual Diamond Awards that they plan to retire his No. 28 during “Bert Blyleven Day” on July 16, prior to a game against the Texas Rangers. Blyleven will be inducted to the Hall of Fame alongside Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick on July 24.

The press release from the team reads in part:

“2011 is going to be a special year for the Blyleven family, the Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory,” said Twins CEO Jim Pohlad. “As excitement builds for Bert’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Twins organization is proud to bestow our highest honor with the retirement of his jersey – number 28. Bert Blyleven Day is aimed at celebrating Bert’s incredible contributions on and off the field, while also providing he and his family a proper send-off to Cooperstown.”

Blyleven will be the sixth player Twins player to have his number retired, joining Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett.

The No. 28 had been worn by Jesse Crain for the past seven seasons, but he signed a three-year, $13 million contract with the White Sox last month.

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.