Justin Morneau back in the Twins’ starting lineup this afternoon

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According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Justin Morneau is back in the starting lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Indians. He’ll play first base and bat cleanup against right-hander Fausto Carmona.

Morneau has been sidelined since last Saturday due to a stiff neck and a case of the flu. He recently received a cortisone injection to relieve inflammation in the neck. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said yesterday that Morneau could be available to pinch-hit today, so his condition has obviously improved greatly over the past 24 hours.

Morneau is batting .208/.250/.302 with zero homers, five doubles and three RBI over his first 56 plate appearances this season.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.