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Cody Bellinger picked the worst time to slump for the Dodgers

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Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger‘s struggles continued on Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series, as the presumptive National League Rookie of the Year Award winner went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He’s now 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts in the World Series.

Most of Bellinger’s at-bats weren’t even competitive. He went down on two called strikes and a swinging strike three — all curve balls from Lance McCullers — in the second inning. In the fourth, he took a first-pitch fastball, a curve for a ball, fouled off a curve, then struck out swinging on a curve. In the sixth, he swung and missed at a curve, fouled off a curve, then whiffed again on a curve for another three-pitch strikeout against McCullers. At least in the eighth, he saw more than a smattering of pitches, ultimately whiffing on the eighth consecutive fastball he saw from reliever Brad Peacock.

Bellinger strikes out a lot. It’s part of the give-and-take with being a power hitter. His 26.6 percent strikeout rate was 16th highest among qualified hitters during the regular season. He was the leadoff batter in an inning three times in Game 2 and twice more in Game 3. Working a walk, putting the ball in play — heck, even just working a deep count more than once in 11 plate appearances would be beneficial, even if it means shortening his swing a bit. Both the approach and the results have been horrendous thus far.

Bellinger didn’t set the world on fire in the NLDS or NLCS, but he was still productive, batting an aggregate .278/.316/.500 with a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs with two walks and 12 strikeouts in 38 plate appearances. That’s a bit below what he produced in the regular season — he slashed .267/.352/.581 — but the Dodgers would happily take that version of Bellinger over the one they’ve seen thus far.

The Astros lead the World Series two games to one with two more home games remaining. If the Dodgers want to send this series back to Los Angeles, Bellinger needs to wake up.

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.