Jon Niese begins minor league rehab assignment

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According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Jon Niese began a minor league rehab assignment this morning with the Mets’ Gulf Coast League affiliate.

In his first outing since being diagnosed with a partial tear of the rotator cuff in his left shoulder last month, Niese allowed four runs (two earned) over two innings. He gave up three hits and no walks while striking out one batter.

Niese will have to make it through multiple starts without pain before being cleared to rejoin the Mets’ rotation, but he should be back sometime in August if all goes well. The 26-year-old southpaw had a 4.32 ERA and 49/33 K/BB ratio in 77 innings over 14 starts prior to the injury.

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.