Scott Baker is back on track after missing some time due to right elbow inflammation, allowing one run over four innings in a minor league exhibition game earlier today, but the Twins have decided to go the safe route and place him on the 15-day disabled list.
Baker’s DL-stint was backdated to March 27, so he is eligible to return as soon as April 12. Barring any setbacks, he should be ready to go around then.
Jason Marquis is away from the team right now as he tends to his seven-year-old daughter, who was recently involved in a serious bicycle accident, so Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano and Liam Hendriks are expected to start during the first series of the season against the Orioles. Baker was originally penciled in to start the home opener on April 9 against the Angels, but now Nick Blackburn will get the call.
Baker, 31, posted a career-best 3.14 ERA and 123/32 K/BB ratio over 134 2/3 innings last season. However, he was limited to just four starts and two relief appearances after the All-Star break due to a strained flexor muscle in his elbow.
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.