You could hear the collective shriek from Orioles fans on Sunday when Nelson Cruz was struck on the left hand by a Scott Feldman fastball. But all is well.
Cruz is in the Orioles’ starting lineup for Tuesday night’s series-opener against the Rangers — his first time back in Arlington, Texas since signing a one-year, $8 million free agent deal with Baltimore this past winter. Cruz will bat third and start in left field.
The 33-year-old slugger is batting .314/.384/.672 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI in 54 games this season for his new team.
That’s a 59-homer and 153-RBI pace. Not bad value at $8 million.
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.