Sarah Garver was in the Twin Cities on Thursday, wrapping up her first week as an intern at a veterinary clinic and preparing to fly to her home in Albuquerque, N.M. That’s when the phone call came, and changed all her plans.
“My wife was in tears,” Mitch Garver said. “I called her and said, ‘Hey, cancel your flight. I’m coming to town.’ ”
That’s because Garver is the latest Class AAA Rochester player to be called up to the Twins, summoned to take the place of outfielder Robbie Grossman, who suffered a fractured left thumb Thursday. Garver is a 26-year-old catcher, the Twins’ ninth-round pick in 2013, who was batting .291 with 17 homers in 88 games for the Red Wings. He will be the 11th Twins player to make his major league debut this season, tying the franchise record set in 1999.
And wife Sarah, a graduate student at Oregon State, isn’t the only one surprised that he’s here.
“It caught me off guard. I don’t think anybody can be ready for this experience,” Garver said. “You’ve got to trust your training and just roll with it.”
His training is as a catcher, but he will have to roll with playing left field or first base while he’s here, because “I don’t envision catching being a big need for us right now,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. But Garver has played left field in 14 games this season, and first base five, and reports of his adjustment are positive, the manager said.
“He told me today, every time I’m out there, I get a play that kind of increases my confidence,” Molitor said. “You can be verbally instructed, but experience is the best way to learn. The more he’s gone out there, I’m sure the more comfortable he’s gotten.”
And he’s gotten particularly comfortable at the plate. “I’m a guy who can put together a good at-bat, see a lot of pitches. I know when I can be aggressive, when to tone it back. I’ve learned how to see the ball a little bit deeper and to trust my hands,” he said. “An all-fields hitter, really putting an emphasis on finding the barrel and putting the ball in the air this year,” which has resulted in his power surge.
The Twins have needed a righthanded bat off the bench all season, particularly since Max Kepler has slumped against lefthanded pitching; Kepler is 2-for-35 (.057) against lefthanders since June 22. Molitor said he can envision Garver getting a few starts against lefthanders, with Eddie Rosario moving to right field when he plays.
“He was a little up and down in his early minor league career, and somewhere along the way, something jolted him to understand he had to turn it up a little bit to get back on course. And he’s done that,” Molitor said.
For now, the Garvers are just trying to relish their new experience in a new city. “What a crazy experience. This is something special, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” Mitch Garver said. “It’s absolutely surreal right now.”
• Grossman, officially placed on the disabled list Friday after his collision with Byron Buxton the day before, will travel with the Twins while he’s sidelined, Molitor said. “Robbie is a big part of that clubhouse [and] its culture,” Molitor said.
• A magnetic resonance imagining test on Dietrich Enns’ left shoulder found inflammation but no other damage, so he had an injection in an effort to treat the soreness. Enns missed two months earlier this season because of a shoulder strain.
• Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was the subject of a video tribute before the game, and received a standing ovation as he came out to exchange lineup cards. He also accepted a check from Twins President Dave St. Peter for $186,000 for cancer research, a cause he has adopted after being diagnosed with prostate cancer last spring.