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Seth Maness: the test case in short-circuiting Tommy John surgery

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Disptach has a must-read today about the comeback of former Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness.

Maness injured his UCL last year and went under the knife. But rather than Tommy John surgery, he underwent a potential replacement for that familiar procedure called “primary repair.” Rather than reconstructing the entire ligament it reinforces it at the bone. The key: if it works, it can cut at least five months off of the typical Tommy John recovery time. His surgery was August 18. Goold said he’s poised to pitch from a mound as early as next week.

Maness is the first big league pitcher to try it, so he’s worth watching. That is, if he gets the chance. The Cards non-tendered him last fall, so he’s a free agent. But he’s rehabbing. He may or may not pitch in a big league game in 2017, but if he does, he may blaze a new trail.

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.