Did Tony La Russa pull a fast one on Dusty Baker last night?

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Tony La Russa used the weather and the rules to his advantage in last night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, moving his club back into first place in the National League Central.

La Russa scratched Kyle McClellan from his scheduled start because of the threat of inclement weather, instead sending Miguel Batista out for the first inning. He threw just six pitches before play was stopped, which resulted in a rain delay of two hours and 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez warmed up as the starting pitcher for the Reds, but never entered the game. When play resumed, McClellan came out to pitch for the Cardinals while Dusty Baker was forced to use Matt Maloney.

Maloney lasted just two-plus innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, while McClellan allowed two runs over six innings for his third win of the season. Well played, La Russa.

I honestly never knew this until last night, but MLB rules state that the home team — and not the umpires — have control over whether a game starts on time. According to Matthew Leach of MLB.com, Baker said he was informed that there was a window to play the ballgame.

“It’s really a tough start,” Baker said. “The information that we received was probably not the same information they received, or else we wouldn’t have started [Volquez] in the first place. We were told there was going to be a window of opportunity there. That window lasted about three minutes.”

While it sure seems like La Russa used the situation to his advantage, don’t you think Baker could have just fired up the internet or had someone check the weather forecast before sending Volquez out to the bullpen? Wasn’t he at least a little suspicious when Batista began to warm up for the Cardinals? Just sounds like he was one-upped by his longtime rival.

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.