Michael Wacha took a big step in his recovery Monday, mixing fastballs and changeups in a 35-pitch bullpen session, and afterward manager Mike Matheny seemed very encouraged when talking to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
I was expecting less. We’re being aggressive, a little more intensity. It looked really close to what we normally would see when he’s out there. It just looked real effortless when the ball was coming out of his hand. He wasn’t trying to hump up and do anything extraordinary. It looked good.
Wacha is two months into his recovery from a stress reaction in his shoulder and Hummel reports that he’ll likely have at least a couple more bullpen sessions before potentially seeing any game action.
So far so good, though.
Wacha, who last started a game for the Cardinals on June 17, had a 2.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings before the injury to basically duplicate his standout performance as a rookie last season.
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.