Ian Stewart to return to Rockies’ lineup Wednesday

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We heard last week that Ian Stewart was a “longshot” to be ready for Opening Day, but it turns out he may cut things pretty close.

According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Stewart is scheduled to start at third base tomorrow against the Rangers. It will be his first Cactus League action since spraining the MCL in his left knee in a collision with teammate Carlos Gonzalez in the Rockies’ exhibition opener back on February 26.

Stewart actually appeared in a “B” game against the Angels yesterday as the designated hitter, finishing 2-for-4 with a walk. Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that Stewart originally expected to return to Cactus League action Thursday night, but the Rockies apparently felt encouraged enough by his progress to move up his timetable.

There’s still a chance Stewart will have enough time to be ready for Opening Day, but if not, Ty Wigginton is an obvious short-term alternative at the hot corner.

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.