Marlon Byrd feels targeted over his association with Victor Conte

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We’ve noted in the past that Marlon Byrd made the strange decision a couple of years ago to start working with fomer BALCO mastermind Victor Conte.  Since 2009, Conte has supplied Byrd with supplements. Byrd remains the only Major League Baseball player who works with Conte, and now, Bruce Levine reports, Byrd says that he feels the pressure about his strange association:

“I’m always going to watch what I take. I’m not going to say I have a bull’s-eye on my back, but I think a lot of people are waiting for me to get my first positive test and miss 50 games. They’d like that just so they can say, ‘We told you so.’ I know that won’t happen. I know I’m clean. I know the supplements I take are clean. I’m going to make sure of that.”

He’s always going to watch what he takes? He knows the supplements are clean?  That’s the real news here, because in past reports about Byrd and Conte, Byrd has made it a point to say that he never even asked Conte what was in the supplements he was given. Rather, he just trusted him. This is from Steve Henson’s Yahoo! column in 2009:

Conte has provided the Texas Rangers center fielder with a variety of pills and powders for 18 months. Not once has Byrd asked Conte whether any of it could trigger a positive drug test.

“I didn’t need to,” Byrd said. “From our conversations, there was no need to ask.”

What has changed since 2009, when Byrd was notably not incurious, and today’s quotes to Levine?  The only think I know of is that Major League Baseball raised a stink about the Byrd-Conte association, even though they were powerless to do anything about it.

Did this stink make Byrd start checking up on what his supplement provider is giving him? Or is he acting as he always did and merely wants to deflect the heat?

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.