Benches clear in Rays-Red Sox game

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After Franklin Morales drilled Luke Scott in the top of the ninth — apparent retaliation for a plunking of Dustin Pedroia earlier — benches cleared in Friday’s game between the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park, which Tampa Bay went on to win 7-4.

Some bad blood likely carried over from last week’s series in Tampa Bay, in which the Rays hit Adrian Gonzalez and Morales later came back and plunked Will Rhymes. It was a similar scene tonight, with Pedroia getting hit and the Red Sox later going after Scott. Morales actually threw behind Scott once before coming back and hitting him in the knee.

The oddity is that neither Morales nor Scott, who held on to his bat while jawing at Morales after the plunking, was ejected from the game. Morales certainly deserved to be tossed; his intentions were clear after he threw behind Scott. Scott didn’t really do much wrong himself.

Also unusual: the coaching staffs seemed much more interested in mixing it up than the players did after the benches cleared. Rays coaches George Hendrick and Jim Hickey and Red Sox coach Tim Bogar — a former Rays coach — and manager Bobby Valentine seemed more belligerent that anyone else.

After things appeared to settle down and the parties returned to their dugouts, there was another incident, this one apparently involving some fans, that had B.J. Upton coming back out of the Rays dugout and pointing up to the stands. We may hear more about what happened there after the game.

Morales went on to finish the inning after order was restored. Still, he could well find himself suspended for a few games for his actions tonight.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a 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.