Most of the time with minor-league rehab assignments the reports on injured players making their way back from the disabled list are overwhelmingly positive, but it doesn’t sound like Blue Jays reliever Frank Francisco is doing very well in his comeback from a strained pectoral muscle.
Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that Francisco has allowed six runs on four hits and three walks while recording five outs at Single-A and manager John Farrell revealed that his fastball has clocked in at just 88-89 miles per hour. Last season Francisco averaged 93.4 mph with his fastball.
Francisco was initially expected to come off the disabled list after just a few rehab appearances, but according to Chisholm he’s now at least three more outings away from returning. Or as Farrell put it: “The feeling is that he needs more reps, more innings on the mound.”
Jon Rauch has been closing in Francisco’s place, although Shawn Camp got (and blew) a multi-inning save chance in yesterday’s wild loss to the Mariners.
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.