Ryan Howard is almost ready to play, though it still won’t be for the Phillies anytime soon. According to CSNPhilly.com:
Howard will be in Philadelphia Wednesday for functional testing of his healing Achilles. If he passes, he will begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Lakewood on Thursday.
It’ll be a lengthy rehab assignment, manager Charlie Manuel said:
I talked to him yesterday. He’s been doing real good. He’s looking forward to when he can come back. And more than likely I’d say, probably, from the looks of things it will be right – after the All-Star break. … He’s feeling real good. He told me that when he runs, he’s got a little limp.
Fortunately, Howard does less running than most.
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.