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Molitor likes adding Aybar's versatility to club

Veteran infielder open to playing outfield, where Twins seek additional depth
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though still unclear when he will officially make his Spring Training debut, infielder Erick Aybar told manager Paul Molitor he would be ready to play immediately after signing a Minor League contract on Friday.

"That was probably the right answer," Molitor chuckled before adding that Aybar could play as soon as Monday's game against St. Louis.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though still unclear when he will officially make his Spring Training debut, infielder Erick Aybar told manager Paul Molitor he would be ready to play immediately after signing a Minor League contract on Friday.

"That was probably the right answer," Molitor chuckled before adding that Aybar could play as soon as Monday's game against St. Louis.

Twins' Spring Training information

Molitor added he liked the veteran presence Aybar, who played last season with a young Padres club, could bring to the Twins. Molitor didn't mince words that in order to be successful, Aybar would have to be flexible for Minnesota.

"There was a time when he was a very good everyday player, and I think he understands now he has to have a little more versatility to find a role on a team somewhere, where it might not be what he's done in the past," Molitor said. "He told me today he's willing to play the outfield. … We just want to add to our depth there."

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After spending parts of 10 seasons with the Angels, Aybar split time in 2016 with Atlanta and Detroit. In San Diego last season, he hit just .234/.300/.348 with 23 extra-base hits in 108 games, including 93 starts. Defensively, he played exclusively at shortstop, except for 1 1/3 innings in relief, providing solid play in the field.

Twins tidbits

Jose Berrios is set to make his spring debut on Tuesday against Boston, and he might be joined by newly signed Anibal Sanchez, according to Molitor.

Sanchez, who signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with Minnesota on Feb. 16, will look to revive his career and compete for a roster spot after seeing a steady decline in performance the previous five seasons in Detroit.

Last season, he posted a career-worst 6.41 ERA in 105 1/3 innings over 28 games for the Tigers.

Video: Anibal Sanchez, Twins agree on one-year deal

• After hosting the University of Minnesota for the Twins' Spring Training opener, Molitor liked the idea of possibly making the meeting a regular occurrence.

"It would make sense, I would think, as a way to try and kick off the spring," Molitor said. "I'm not sure what all is involved in trying to make that happen with their schedule."

The game turned out to be a tight one, with the Twins winning, 2-1.

• After seeing limited time in the Majors last season, southpaw Gabriel Moya got his first spring action in 2018, giving up a home run in two-thirds of an inning in the 1-1 tie against the Orioles on Saturday.

Moya gave up the no-doubt long ball to Austin Wynns, then proceeded to surrender a single to Jomar Reyes before forcing Ryan McKenna to pop out. A throwing error to first ended Moya's day.

Molitor stressed that Moya should not lose confidence in his stuff.

"The thing I noticed is that he threw four consecutive offspeed pitches after the guy homered," Molitor said. "Hopefully, you don't lose trust in the fastball."

Up next

Right-hander Kyle Gibson will take the mound against visiting Tampa Bay at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. It will be Minnesota's first home game against a Major League club, as the Twins previously hosted the University of Minnesota. Other pitches scheduled to appear include Addison Reed, Moya, Michael Kohn, Lewis Thorpe, Zack Littell and Myles Jaye.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com.

Minnesota Twins, Erick Aybar