Doug Fister cleared to return from sore elbow this Saturday

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Via Mark Zuckmeran of CSN Washington’s Nats Insider:

VIERA, Fla. — Three weeks removed from his first (and only) appearance in a Grapefruit League this spring, Doug Fister is ready to face big-league hitters again.

Fister, out since March 2 with elbow inflammation, is scheduled start Saturday against the Marlins, Nationals manager Matt Williams said.

Fister threw two-plus innings in a minor league game on Monday and experienced no discomfort in his shoulder.

He is scheduled to go three innings (or 45 pitches — whichever comes first) in his return to Grapefruit League action on Saturday afternoon versus the Marlins and the hope is that he won’t have to miss a single turn in the Nationals’ regular-season starting rotation.

Fister was acquired from the Tigers this winter infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol. The 30-year-old right-hander had a steady 3.67 ERA in 208 2/3 innings last season with Detroit.

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.