And so it begins: Reds bench Chris Heisey on Opening Day

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Manager Dusty Baker announced his Opening Day lineup on Wednesday, with Chris Heisey nowhere to be found:

2B Brandon Phillips
SS Zach Cozart
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
RF Jay Bruce
LF Ryan Ludwick
CF Drew Stubbs
C Ryan Hanigan
SP Johnny Cueto

Another notable absence is that of Rookie of the Year hopeful Devin Mesoraco.

This post is about Heisey, though.  The 27-year-old has hit .254/.316/.465 in 480 at-bats for the Reds the last two years. It’s not great, but it’s a whole lot better than Ludwick’s .244/.318/.391 line over the same timespan.

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Baker explained the decision by saying he didn’t like how Heisey would match up against Mark Buehrle. For what it’s worth, neither Heisey nor Ludwick has ever faced Buehrle before. Both are right-handed hitters. Heisey, though, has had a big reverse platoon split up to this point of his career.

One game doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But this was supposed to be Heisey’s year to prove he can play regularly. That he’s already found himself on the bench hardly bodes well.

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.