Troubling development for the first-place Braves, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Jason Heyward left tonight’s game against the Reds with a strained right hamstring.
After reaching on an infield single with two outs in the second inning, Heyward was advancing to third base on a single by Justin Upton before he hurt himself on a slide into the bag. The 23-year-old outfielder grabbed at his hamstring while laying on the ground before eventually getting to his feet and walking off under his own power. He’s scheduled to be reevaluated tomorrow, but it certainly looked like something that could require a trip to the disabled list.
Heyward has had a disappointing first half, batting .223/.321/.367 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 67 games. He was previously sidelined from April 21-May 16 following an emergency appendectomy. Losing Heyward for any length of time hurts, but the Braves are slated to get both Evan Gattis and Jordan Schafer back from the disabled list right after the All-Star break.
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.