Gio Gonzalez hit hard in rehab start, but says his shoulder feels “really good”

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Gio Gonzalez made a minor league rehab start with High-A Potomac last night as he nears his return from left shoulder inflammation. It didn’t go well, as he was hit hard for eight runs on seven hits and four walks over just 3 2/3 innings.

Gonzalez began his outing with two scoreless innings, but he gave up a grand slam in the third inning and was pulled in the fourth inning once he reached his limit of 65 pitches. While the results were poor, the southpaw told James Wagner of the Washington Post that his shoulder felt good.

“It’s definitely a work in process going from spring training to building it up to shutting it down and then going back at it again,” said Gonzalez, who is on the disabled list for the first time in his seven-year major league career. “To make the wheels go, you’ve got to crank them up and try to find where you’re at. It’s just good to know that my body feels good and my arm feels good.”

The initial plan was for Gonzalez to make just one rehab start and return for a start against the Giants next week, but that’s no sure thing. The Nationals might want to see better results first.

Gonzalez, 28, had a 4.62 ERA and 53/20 K/BB ratio in 50 2/3 innings across nine starts prior to landing on the disabled list last month.

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.