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Must-Click Link: David Freese and his battle with depression and anxiety

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David Freese became a St. Louis legend in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. That night, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals one strike from elimination and the Rangers one strike from glory, Freese hit a two-run triple that eluded Nelson Cruz and sent the game into extra innings. Then, in the 11th, he hit a walkoff homer, giving the Cardinals a Game 7 which they’d go on to win and become World Series champions. It’s virtually impossible to script baseball heroics greater than that.

But despite it all, Freese was not in a good place. He had suffered from depression and anxiety his entire life and, to compensate for that, he abused alcohol. All of it was exacerbated by the expectations of being the hometown hero and feeling he had to be a certain sort of person to the people in St. Louis who either knew him all of his life or were introduced to him as a conquering hero. His life spun out of control.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has an interview with Freese about all of that. He talks about his struggles with depression, anxiety and the bottle and how (a) getting traded away from the Cardinals; and (b) meeting and marrying a woman who was not a baseball fan who helped him bring balance to his life helped lift him out of the fog and into a healthier, more balanced life.

Some must-read material for Cardinals fans, Pirates fans, Freese fans and anyone who has struggled with the issues he has.

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.