Chien-Ming Wang tossed six innings of two-run ball last night in a minor-league rehab start at Single-A and might be one more solid outing away from rejoining the Nationals.
Wang has been out since injuring his calf covering first base on March 15 and has also battled major shoulder problems for the past three seasons, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that “his cannonball sinker is back in the low-90s, and his breaking balls are better than ever.”
Wang racked up an uncharacteristic seven strikeouts versus Single-A hitters last night and also induced five ground-ball outs, but with Ross Detwiler pitching very well as the fill-in fifth starter the Nationals will have a tough decision to make once Wang is deemed ready to return as soon as next week.
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.