Matt Kemp aiming to return to the Dodgers’ starting lineup for first game after All-Star break

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Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has been on the shelf for close to five weeks with a left hamstring strain that dates back to the middle of May. But he is making progress and already charting his return.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kemp is planning to embark on a minor league rehab assignment next week and hopes to rejoin the Dodgers for their first scheduled game after the All-Star break (July 13 against the Padres).

Kemp will compete in the Home Run Derby on July 9 at Kauffman Stadium but will skip the All-Star Game.

The 27-year-old is batting .355/.444/.719 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI in 36 games played this season. The Dodgers have taken a sharp dip in the standings while he’s been sidelined and currently trail the Giants by one game in the National League West.

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.