Ryan Westmoreland is going back to school, hopes to return to field

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Former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland, who retired from baseball at age 22 this spring after a pair of brain surgeries, still hopes there’s some baseball in his future.

The native of Rhode Island sat down with the Newport Daily News to talk about his future recently:

“I’ve been working out a lot, and if the time comes, I’m going to give it a shot. Because retired or not, my dream has always been to play in the big leagues, and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” he said. “But if I ever feel like there’s a shot for me, I’m going to give it a shot. Whether it’s just playing catch or taking batting practice or whatever it is. I love the game still and that will never change.”

Westmoreland’s plan for now, though, calls for school and something that may allow him to work with young athletes someday.

“I’ve been looking into physical therapy school. It’s a six-year program, but I feel like I have a good understanding of the body and injuries — of course, injuries,” he said. “But it’s something I’ve always been interested in and I can branch off and do whatever — strength and conditioning, nutrition; that’s all kind of right up my alley.

Westmoreland’s schooling is already pretty much taken care of; his original contract with the Red Sox  guaranteed him $200,000 if he ended up going to college.

At age 19, Westmoreland hit .296/.401/.484 for short-season Single-A Lowell in 2009, quickly establishing himself as one of the game’s top outfield prospects. However, disaster struck the following spring, as he required surgery for a cavernous malformation in his brainstem. A second surgery followed in 2012, and he retired from baseball in March. He still has one more surgery planned, that to correct an eye problem that should allow him to ditch the glasses he’s currently wearing and permit him to drive again.

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.