Gerrit Cole to return to Pirates’ rotation Wednesday

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The Pirates have lost four straight games and would not have a spot in the playoffs if the regular season ended today, but a big boost is coming this week.

Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that right-hander Gerrit Cole is due back from the disabled list on Wednesday and will start for the Bucs in their series-finale that night against the visiting Braves. He will be taking over the rotation spot left vacant by Charlie Morton, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning with inflammation in his right hip.

Cole has been out since early July because of a lat injury. He experienced a few setbacks along the way, but the young starter tossed seven scoreless innings in a rehab outing at Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night and six scoreless frames for Indianapolis last Sunday.

The 23-year-old former first overall pick owns a 3.46 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 33 career major league starts.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a 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.