Placido Polanco “definitely” still bothered by sports hernia

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Placido Polanco went 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in the first two games against the Cardinals and also looked somewhat limited defensively at times, with manager Charlie Manuel admitting yesterday that the third baseman’s sports hernia may still be affecting him.

“I think it bothers him some,” Manuel told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “He’s missed time because of it, and I think it plays a part in his movement and things. He gets real tight and sore, and I think it definitely bothers him.”

Even before beginning the playoffs with eight hitless at-bats Polanco batted just .243 with a .591 OPS in 96 games following a big April, but he was reasonably productive after returning from the disabled list in late August, hitting .282 with a .682 OPS in 33 games. It seems pretty clear that he’s playing through the pain at less than 100 percent, but that doesn’t preclude him from still being the Phillies’ best option.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to 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.