Jason Hammel goes five scoreless in rehab start

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The Orioles currently have a claim on one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League. And their active 25-man roster is about to get a nice boost.

According to beat writer Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, right-handed starter Jason Hammel threw five scoreless innings Saturday in his rehab debut with High-A Fredrick. He struck out seven batters, issued just one walk, and reported no abnormal pain or discomfort during or after the outing.

Hammel seems likely to rejoin the Baltimore rotation next week.

The 29-year-old had a 3.54 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 106/39 K/BB ratio in 109 1/3 innings before hitting the disabled list in mid-July with a right knee injury that eventually required surgery.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to 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.