Jorge De La Rosa aims to return from Tommy John surgery in June

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Rockies’ pitching coach Bob Apodaca said last month that the club hopes to have Jorge De La Rosa back from Tommy John surgery in July, but the rehabbing southpaw is aiming to come back even sooner.

De La Rosa resumed facing live hitters in recent weeks and threw 45 pitches Tuesday in a simulated game. While he still has several minor league rehab starts in front of him, he told Troy Renck of the Denver Post yesterday that he is optimistic about his chances of returning in June.

“Of course I am watching!” De La Rosa said from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., on how he was spending Friday night. “The (simulated game) went well. And (Friday) I threw an aggressive bullpen. I really think I can be back in June.”

De La Rosa posted a 3.51 ERA over 10 starts before going under the knife last June. He is owed $10 million this season while his contract includes an $11 million player option for 2013.

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.