Joba Chamberlain was throwing a 96 m.p.h. fastball yesterday

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Whether it’s mechanical changes, good health after a long break or just because he got a good night’s sleep the night before, Yankees fans have to like this: Joba Chamberlain was throwing the ball 96 m.p.h yesterday, and was hitting his spots as he did it.

“This is the best I’ve felt in spring training,” Chamberlain said. “Usually, it’s halfway through the season when I’m throwing this hard. That’s a plus. Physically, I feel great, and mentally, I feel awesome. Those are two battles that are tough in spring training.”

There’s so much talk about the Yankees’ bullpen, and Chamberlain tends to be the fourth guy mentioned if he’s mentioned at all.  If he’s on point like this once the season gets going, however, what is already being viewed as a strength for the Bombers will be an even greater one than a lot of people think.

And if you think that about 60% of the reason I posted this item was so that I could have an excuse to use this silly picture of Chamberlain, well, that’s where you’re right.

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.