Matt Kemp could begin rehab assignment this week

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Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp says his ankle is pain-free, meaning he could begin a rehab assignment this week, tweets Dylan Hernandez. It is the next step towards rejoining the Dodger lineup. Kemp injured his ankle sliding into home plate in the ninth inning against the Nationals on July 21. It was his first game after being activated from the 15-day-disabled list due to a shoulder injury.

While the Dodgers have flourished without Kemp, they would still welcome him back with open arms as center field is not the ideal position for Andre Ethier. However, Kemp’s return would create a logjam in the outfield with Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Ethier, and Kemp.

Manager Don Mattingly says he doesn’t plan to use Kemp on an everyday basis when he returns. Via Hernandez:

“I’ll get him back in the mix, get him comfortable,” Mattingly said. “I’ll do what I did with Carl [Crawford] when he was coming back from his hamstring. He gets a couple days in there, he gets a day off. I’ll be careful with him.”

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.