Inside the park homers aren’t exceedingly rare. They happen. But, as I’ve said before, they’re often kind of anti-climactic. A fielder misplays the ball, falls down or, worse, gets hurt, the ball rolls around forever and the batter makes it home standing up. A lot of inside the park homers would be called four-base errors if I was in charge of things and fielders were actually penalized for totally missing balls they should have handled. I think triples are often more exciting.
But such was not the case with Chase Utley’s inside-the-parker last night. Yes, there was a bad carom off the wall, but the fielders recovered as quickly as they could, Utley hauled ass and there was a close play at the plate. Exciting stuff.
My favorite part wasn’t the play at the plate, though. It was the goofy look on Utley’s face as he rounded third and headed for home. I think I saw his tongue sticking out like someone was taunting him with delicious, delicious pie.
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.