UPDATE: Youkilis is back in the Red Sox’s lineup and batting cleanup tonight.
J.D. Drew isn’t ready to return from the disabled list yet, but Kevin Youkilis is expected to come off the shelf and rejoin the Red Sox’s lineup for tonight’s game against the Rangers.
Youkilis has been out since August 18 with a strained lower back, but went 2-for-8 with a homer during a brief rehab assignment at Triple-A, deeming himself “good to go” and “as good as I can be for September.”
Youkilis was in a prolonged slump before being shut down, hitting just .181 in his last 20 games, although he did have four homers and 10 walks during that time. Jed Lowrie has started 14 of 16 games at third base in Youkilis’ absence, with Mike Aviles drawing the other two starts.
If nothing else his return should help the Red Sox games drag on even longer.
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.