Josh Hamilton is making his return to the Rangers today, starting in left field and batting fifth against the Indians in Cleveland.
In returning from both shoulder surgery and relapses in substance abuse it’ll be Hamilton’s first MLB game action since last October and his first start for the Rangers since the 2012 playoffs.
Acquired by the Rangers for a fraction of his remaining contract when the Angels decided to part ways with the former MVP regardless of cost, Hamilton hit .364 with one homer, five doubles, and a .937 OPS in a 12-game minor league rehab assignment at Double-A and Triple-A.
Last time he started in left field and batted fifth for the Rangers? July 27, 2010, when Texas’ lineup also included Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Bengie Molina, and Chris Davis.
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.