Twins sign veteran SS Erick Aybar to minor league contract

Twins sign veteran SS Erick Aybar to minor league contract

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have signed 12-year veteran shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

The Twins announced the deal on Saturday, when Aybar was expected to report to camp. Aybar made his debut with the Los Angeles Angels in 2006 and was their everyday shortstop for seven seasons. He won a Gold Glove award in 2011 and made the All-Star team in 2014. He played last year for the San Diego Padres, batting .234 with 11 stolen bases in 333 at-bats.

The Twins have plenty of middle infield depth behind second baseman Brian Dozier and shortstop Jorge Polanco with versatile backups Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza, so Aybar will be a long shot to make the team.

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Kevin Siegrist agrees to minor league deal with Pirates

Kevin Siegrist agrees to minor league deal with Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Left-hander Kevin Siegrist agreed to a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and will report to big league spring training.

The 28-year-old was 1-1 with one save and a 4.81 ERA in 46 games last year for St. Louis and Philadelphia, striking out 43 in 39 1/3 innings.

He has an 18-10 record with 10 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 276 relief appearances over five big league seasons with the Cardinals and Phillies, who claimed him off waivers on Sept. 2.

His deal was announced Saturday.

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Day 15 recap: The Miracurl on Ice, history for Ledecka, Kenworthy's latest furry friend

Day 15 recap: The Miracurl on Ice, history for Ledecka, Kenworthy's latest furry friend

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Miracurl on ice! The U.S. men won gold in curling, snowboarder Kyle Mack grabbed silver and Gus Kenworthy found a new best friend. Here’s what you missed from Day 15 of the Pyeongchang Games.

Curling

Curling became America’s favorite pastime overnight as Team Shuster defeated Sweden 10-7 to clinch the United States’ first gold medal in the sport. Gangneung Curling Center felt unusually tense for the first seven ends, as the Swedes and Americans went stone for stone, deadlocked at 5-5. Then, in the eighth end, the Americans blew the game wide-open by scoring five in one go to clinch a shocking victory over the world’s No. 2 team. They weren’t the only ones surprised by the win. After the medal ceremony, Team Shuster realized that their new gold medals weren’t actually theirs.

They got the right ones eventually … we think. Back home, everyone from NFL quarterbacks to Mr. T went crazy.

Snowboard Big Air

Two days after Jamie Anderson grabbed a silver for Team USA in women’s big air snowboarding, Kyle Mack got himself one to match in the men’s final by landing one of the most stylish runs of these Olympics. Before Saturday, he had never landed a frontside double cork 1440 with a double tail grab (also known as a Bloody Dracula, which might just be the coolest term in sports). But Mack realized he needed to take a risk to become one of the first-ever medalists in big air, the Winter Olympics’ newest event.

“I was at the top [of the jump] contemplating whether I should do the bloody 14 or just do a tail grab,” he said. “But bringing style into snowboarding is the thing I’ve always worked on. Big air has always been one of the most progressive events for snowboarding, but I wish it was more about style and grabs and the technical stuff. That’s something I want to keep fighting for. Before I dropped in for my second run, I was like, I’m doing this for snowboarding.”

It worked. Mack joined Canada’s Sebastien Toutant (gold) and Great Britain’s Billy Morgan on the podium and added a seventh snowboarding medal to Team USA’s count. That’s almost a third of the total haul.

Parallel Giant Slalom Snowboarding

So, is Ester Ledecka a skier who snowboards, or a snowboarder who skis? Looks like both. A week after beating Lindsey Vonn to the gold medal in alpine super-G, the Czech snow superstar added another gold in snowboarding, her “actual” sport. She became the first woman to win gold in two sports at the same Winter Olympics, further confusing everyone wondering whether to call her a skier or a snowboarder. Two-time Olympic gold medalist should do.

In other news …

For the second consecutive Winter Olympics, freeski superstar Gus Kenworthy is going home with a pet from the host country. After adopting a family of stray dogs in Sochi four years ago, Kenworthy visited a dog farm in South Korea on Saturday and left with a new puppy, whom he named Beemo. The dog farm itself was bought out by Humane Society International, and all 90 dogs will be brought to the U.S. for adoption.

Cubs field veteran lineup vs. Rangers

Cubs field veteran lineup vs. Rangers

The Cubs will field a veteran lineup Saturday when they open the home portion of their exhibition season against the Rangers at Sloan Park.

Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, Addison Russell and Javier Baez will make their spring debuts.

Albert Almora Jr. will bat leadoff.

For the second consecutive game, the Cubs will wear Stoneman Douglas High School caps to honor the 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school attended by Rizzo.

Here are the lineups:

CUBS

  • Almora Jr. CF
  • Bryant 3B
  • Rizzo 1B
  • Conteras C
  • Heyward RF
  • Russell SS
  • Baez 2B
  • Gimenez DH
  • Bourjos LF
  • Butler P

RANGERS

  • DeShields CF
  • Odor DH
  • Profar SS
  • Mazara RF
  • Guzman 1B
  • Robinson LF
  • Nicholas C
  • Lopez 3B
  • Alberto 2B
  • Blackburn P

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Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber looks lean ahead of spring training

Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber looks lean ahead of spring training

Feb. 24 (UPI) — Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber appears to be in great shape heading into the 2018 season.

The outfielder is listed at 6-foot, 235 pounds on Baseball Reference, but reports emerged all offseason about Schwarber working on his conditioning. ESPN reported that Schwarber lost up to 20 pounds during the offseason.

He was listed at 240 pounds when he played at Indiana University.

The Cubs posted a video of the slugger Thursday on social media. He looks extremely lean and muscular while making great contact with a baseball. The Cubs included some bomb emojis for good measure on the post.

Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber hits an RBI-single off Atlanta Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz in the third inning on September 1 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. File photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI

Boston Red Sox‘s Sam Travis — Schwarber’s former college teammate — told MassLive that Schwarber was on a “really strict diet.”

Industry sources told ESPN that he was on a mission to “transform” his body this offseason.

Schwarber, 24, hit .211 last season with 30 home runs and 59 RBI in 129 games. He also hit four home runs and had nine RBI, while hitting .343, in 11 minor league appearances. He is pre-arbitration eligible in 2018.

He went 0-for-1 in the Cubs’ 2-1 loss Friday to the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Ariz. Schwarber had a walk and a strikeout in the spring training appearance.