Mitch Garver is in some pain, and he’s wearing a protective boot on his left lower leg.
But he is relieved, as are the Twins, because the catcher’s ankle injury could have been much worse.
Garver suffered a high ankle sprain Tuesday as he tagged out Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who was attempting to score from second on a single. Garver had an MRI on Wednesday morning that showed no further damage, allowing the Twins and Garver to exhale.
“We’re all pretty happy about the results,” Garver said. “Obviously, it could have been a lot worse. It’s a tribute to our training staff for not only giving me the training I need to keep flexible ankles and strong ankles, but hopping on it early and getting me taken care of [Tuesday] night and throughout the night. I think I’m set up with a pretty good rehab program.”
He even divulged that there wasn’t too much swelling or bruising, another reason to be encouraged.
“Who knows? Could be a week, could be two,” he said. “We’re really just playing it by ear. There’s not much inflammation, which we’re happy about. That’s kind of the early first stage is getting rid of the inflammation before you can do anything. We’re hopeful.”
Still, Garver will be out a bunch of games, as he was placed on the 10-day injured list. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli would not speculate how long Garver will be out. But that injury has taken players out of action for up to six weeks.
The Twins, however, might compare Garver’s case to that of Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, who was diagnosed with a mild high ankle sprain while playing in a minor league spring training game on March 26. Lindor returned to action on April 20. Part of Lindor’s return was focused on him ramping up to start the season, while Garver is well into the season. So there’s some hope Garver can return sooner than that.
“We’ll probably stay away from getting too specific on length of time that he could be out,” Baldelli said, “but something where it could be shorter rather than longer.”
Short term or long term, the Twins are dealing with the first bit of adversity during their surprising surge. Plenty of things have gone right for the club — like plenty of power hitting — and that includes Garver playing as well as any catcher in the league. He’s batting .329 with nine home runs and 19 RBI. He’s second in home runs hit by a catcher, sixth in RBI and his 1.252 on base-plus-slugging percentage is the best of any catcher with at least 50 plate appearances.
Baldelli batted Garver in the leadoff spot against lefties, then had him hit third when Nelson Cruz left the lineup because of a sore left wrist. Pitchers have noted how Garver’s defense has improved, too.
The Twins can go with a platoon of Jason Castro, who homered Wednesday against the Angels, and Willians Astudillo, who added a sacrifice fly. But Garver’s two-way presence will be missed by a team that has held first place in the American League Central for 37 days and also entered Wednesday with the second-best record in baseball.
“Sometimes, a guy can get offensive-minded and lose his way back there a little bit behind the plate,” Twins righthander Kyle Gibson said. “Garver, even though he’s been one of our best hitters, really cares about how good he is defensively and worked really hard on it this spring.”