It went undisclosed throughout the spring and the first month and a half of the season, but the Rangers revealed Monday that left-hander Michael Kirkman was disagnosed with skin cancer back in January.
According to the release, which certainly must have come with Kirkman’s permission, the 25-year-0ld is currently undergoing regular treatment in Round Rock and is being continually monitored by his doctors in both Florida and Texas. The prognosis is for a full recovery.
Kirkman has been pitching despite the cancer, going 2-1 with a 6.68 ERA in six starts and five relief appearances for Triple-A Round Rock. He served stints in the majors with Texas in 2010 and ’11, going 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA in 29 relief appearances. Kirkman has the stuff to start in the majors if he can get better about pounding the strike zone. The Rangers will probably give him another look as a reliever later this year.
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.