Everyone insists Johan Santana is healthy despite 7.98 ERA

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Johan Santana got rocked for eight runs in 1.1 innings Saturday in his return from the disabled list and now has a 7.98 ERA in nine starts since throwing a no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1.

Since racking up 134 pitches while making history Santana has allowed 39 runs in 44 innings, serving up 11 homers and a .328 opponents’ batting average while failing to make it beyond five innings in six of his nine starts.

And yet everyone, including Santana, continues to insist that the former Cy Young winner is healthy. Here’s what manager Terry Collins told Conor Orr of the Newark Star Ledger:

I’m planning on, certainly, in five days, seeing him back out there. Any conversations we have about the future, that’s going to be down the road. They’re not gonna be right now. I think Johan’s shoulder is fine, we’ll take a look at him after a few more starts and decide how he’s feeling… but right now, according to me, I have no plans of shutting Johan Santana down.

Here’s the thing, though: Either he’s hurt or he’s just terrible. And which is better, really?

It’s like someone being a complete jerk at a party, making a fool of himself and harassing everyone, and then insisting that he’s not even drunk. OK fine, you’re not drunk, but doesn’t that just mean you’re a huge (sober) jerk? And in Santana’s case, if he’s truly not pitching through more arm problems and still has a 7.98 ERA in his last nine starts … well, that’s hardly any less disturbing.

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.