Clay Buchholz throws 50 pitches from a bullpen mound and calls it his “best day so far”

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Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 8 because of neck and shoulder troubles. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that the right-hander threw around 50 pitches — simulating three innings of work — on Wednesday afternoon off a bullpen mound and called it his “best day so far” in a chat later with various Boston media members.

“Today felt like a good time for me to test it, and yeah, the last 30 pitches I didn’t feel anything,” said Buchholz. “I think that was the best thing I could take out of it.”

Buchholz will throw a similar-style bullpen session on Saturday and could then be considered for a minor league rehab assignment. There’s still hope that he will be ready for activation by the end of August.

Buchholz, 29, was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 12 starts before landing on the disabled list.

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.