Here’s something you don’t see every day. The Phillies trailed the Cubs 5-1 in the top of the sixth inning, but were threatening with runners on first and second and Chase Utley at the dish against starter Jeff Samardzija. Utley laced a line drive into right-center, scoring both runners on a triple. That wasn’t the most interesting part, though.
Upon close examination, the ball Utley hit into the gap knocked another long-lost baseball out of the ivy, closer to center fielder Junior Lake. Lake was not confused by the odd occurrence, however, reaching for the ball further away and getting it back into the infield as quickly as he could.
Utley’s two-run triple was part of a four-run rally in the sixth and the Phillies eventually went on to win 6-5 in Ryne Sandberg’s return to Wrigley Field as a newly-minted manager.
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.