For anyone into the World Baseball Classic, here’s the Team USA lineup for today’s pre-WBC tuneup game against the White Sox:
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Braun, DH
4. Joe Mauer, C
5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
6. Mark Teixeira, 1B
7. David Wright, 3B
8. Adam Jones, CF
9. Shane Victorino, LF
Like many managers, Joe Torre likes speedy guys atop the lineup even if they don’t do a particularly good job getting on base. Rollins and Phillips had .316 and .321 on-base percentages last season, so they aren’t exactly ideal table-setters. Mauer, who got on base at a .416 clip last year while hitting just 10 homers in 147 games, is batting cleanup, which he hasn’t done for the Twins since 2006.
Breaking down batting orders for an exhibition game before an exhibition tournament seems like probably the biggest waste of time in the world, but … I dunno, it seemed a little interesting to me.
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.