Chien-Ming Wang making progress, throws off mound

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Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw off a mound Saturday in Viera, Florida for the first time since suffering a severe left hamstring strain in mid-March. And it went swimmingly, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.

Wang is at least a week away from beginning a rehab assignment and will likely be asked to make three minor league starts, so he’s doubtful to join Washington’s starting rotation before the end of April. But an early-May debut seems doable.

Wang, 32, posted a decent 4.04 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 62 1/3 innings last season for the Nationals. Once healthy, he will presumably take over for No. 5 starter Ross Detwiler. While John Lannan sulks on.

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.