The Cardinals thought Albert Pujols’ hamstring problem was mild enough that they didn’t bring him in for treatment on Monday’s off day, but he is out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game in Houston.
Pujols left the Sunday night game against the Reds in the seventh inning because of what was originally called tightness and later termed a strain of his left hamstring.
In Pujols’ absence tonight, the Cardinals have Lance Berkman playing first base and Jon Jay in right field. They called up first baseman Mark Hamilton a week ago, and it’d seem like a good time to play him tonight against a right-handed starter. However, the Cardinals opted for the defensive gain in moving Berkman to the infield.
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.