Franklin Gutierrez making progress, takes 25 swings

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Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez took a significant step forward Thursday in his ongoing recovery from a torn left pectoral muscle, swinging a bat through the air 25 times without discomfort.

This according to 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer.

Gutierrez had been limited this week to pool workouts, but he reported feeling strong when he arrived at Mariners camp on Thursday morning and was allowed to progress to dry-land swinging. M’s head trainer Rick Griffin was impressed with the results:

“It went well,” Griffin told Drayer on Thursday night. “You could tell he was a little hesitant at first, he thought he might feel it (pectoral muscle) but about half way through he let go and took a good swing and said it felt great.”

Gutierrez is expected to be ready to make his regular-season debut by the end of April. The 29-year-old batted just .224/.261/.273 in 344 plate appearances last year while fighting oblique and stomach issues.

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.