Cardinals prospect Shelby Miller struggling with Shannon Stone’s death

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Shelby Miller, the Cardinals’ No. 1 pitching prospect, had more on his mind last week than getting ready to pitch in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game.  His father was a fellow firefighter and a good friend of Shannon Stone, who passed away Thursday night after tumbling over a railing at Rangers Ballpark, and he got the news after Thursday’s game.

“He was an awesome guy,” Miller said. “He was at my game in Frisco and just really a good person.

“Having it happen to him is just tough.”

Mitch Miller and Stone worked together for more than a decade in Brownwood, Texas, and Shelby said both of his parents would attend Monday’s funeral.

“I can’t weep over it or do anything that’s going to keep me from performing well or something like that,” he said after pitching Sunday night. “It’s definitely in the back of your mind. You think about it, and then you get down, and then you just try to forget about it and it’s not easy. It’s something I’m going to have to get through, me and my family are going to have to get through and the Stones are going to have to get through.”

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.