Ryan Howard cleared for baseball activities, heading to Phillies’ spring training complex

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Hey, it’s positive Ryan Howard health news!

According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the 32-year-old first baseman has been cleared for baseball activities and will report to the Phillies’ spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida on Monday morning to begin daily workouts.

He will begin by fielding ground balls and playing catch before progressing to hitting and base-running.

Howard underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in October, then had a follow-up procedure in February to clear out an infection that had formed around his surgical wound.

Salisbury calls June a “safe, albeit broad, outside estimate” for the slugger’s return to major league action.

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.