Albert Pujols plays field, declares himself ready for opener

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Albert Pujols played first base Tuesday for the first time in this year’s Cactus League and reported no issues with his surgically-repaired right knee.

Pujols got pulled after five innings and was never really tested on defense, but the slugger told USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale after his day was through that he is feeling good and fully expects to be in the Angels’ lineup for the regular-season opener on April 1 against the Reds. It’s at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati — where Pujols was a .316/.404/.598 career hitter during his time with the Cardinals.

Pujols was 0-for-2 at the plate in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Brewers, but he still boasts a .313 batting average in eight spring games. He posted the worst OPS (.859) and OPS+ (141) of his career in 2012 with Anaheim.

The Angels still owe the 33-year-old first baseman a whopping $228 million.

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.