Padres sticking with rookie Anthony Rizzo amid slow start

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Anthony Rizzo has struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, going just 5-for-31 (.161) with one homer and 12 strikeouts since being called up two weeks ago, but the Padres have made it very clear that they won’t be benching or demoting the top prospect.

Here’s what manager Bud Black told Rob Terranova of the North County Times:

He’s going to play. He’s got a very good head on his shoulders, has poise,  and a great perspective on where he is right now for a 21-year-old. Now he needs time to continue to grow as a player and develop as a major-leaguer.

And here’s general manager Jed Hoyer:

He might be overswinging a little bit right now, but we have no doubt that he’s going to be a really good player. He’s just gonna go though some growing pains.

When a team commits to calling up a stud prospect at age 21 how he fares through two weeks should have absolutely zero impact on their plans. Rizzo, who was acquired from the Red Sox as part of the four-prospect package for Adrian Gonzalez this offseason, hit .365 with 16 homers, 20 doubles, and a 1.159 OPS in 52 games at Triple-A prior to the call-up. He’ll be just fine.

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.