Dr. James Andrews found no structural damage in Frank Francisco’s injured pectoral muscle, but John Lott of the National Post reports that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list anyway.
Octavio Dotel is also sidelined by a hamstring injury that could keep him out for Opening Day, which means Jon Rauch is now the favorite for early season saves in Toronto.
Rauch stepped in for Joe Nathan as the Twins’ closer last season and converted 21-of-25 saves through late July, but the Twins then acquired Matt Capps from the Nationals and moved Rauch into a middle relief role.
Francisco is scheduled to begin a throwing program as soon as Sunday, so barring a setback his DL stint may not be a long one.
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.