Monday’s rain prevented Mitch Garver from passing the Twins’ final test — sprinting around the bases on his sprained left ankle — before playing baseball again. So Garver is headed where it’s not raining.
The catcher, sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain on May 14, is eager to play again, so as the rain kept falling, the Twins booked him on a flight to Florida on Monday night, sending him to Class AA Pensacola to begin what he hopes is a short rehab assignment.
Garver is scheduled to work out with the Blue Wahoos on Tuesday, including proving he can run on that ankle, then catch five innings Wednesday and a full game Friday. After that, the Twins can evaluate his condition daily, but if he is ready by the weekend, it’s only a short flight to the Tampa area, where the Twins play the Rays until Sunday.
Garver, 28, clearly hopes to rejoin the Twins in Florida and resume a season in which he was batting .329 with nine homers in just 25 games.
“I have caught a bullpen while I was here. I passed every agility test they’ve wanted me to pass,” Garver said. “As far as I’m concerned, the training staff is concerned, my ankle is healthy and we’re ready to go.”
If he makes it to Tropicana Field, Garver, injured when the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani slid into has ankle during a play at the plate, will have spent less than three weeks on the injured list, a remarkable recovery from an injury that frequently sidelines athletes for four to six weeks.
“It’s been about as quick of a recovery and rehab process as we could ever have hoped,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Garver said his offseason workout program is paying off.
“I know a lot of people might have been sidelined for longer, but I take a lot of pride in taking care of my body,” Garver said. “The preparation I put into the offseason making sure I’m both flexible and strong in all of my joints, that’s a real tribute to how much work I put in.”
When the Brewers summoned reliever Jeremy Jeffress in the fifth inning Monday, Baldelli was concerned about his wardrobe. Jeffress was wearing light grey arm sleeves — “Basically the color of the ball, with white markings near his hand,” the manager said — so Baldelli pointed them out to plate umpire Ted Barrett.
“He’s a professional. He asked if I would let him make a judgment — watch, take a look and make a judgment,” Baldelli said. “I said, ‘That sounds good and fair to me.’ ”
After Miguel Sano walked, Barrett agreed that the sleeves made it hard to pick up the ball, and ordered Jeffress to remove them and put on contrasting dark blue sleeves instead.
“In the name of our players who have to go up and hit, sometimes asking those questions are the right thing to do,” Baldelli said.
Jeffress then gave up a single to Max Kepler, but he ended the inning — and almost his season, perhaps — when Willians Astudillo lined a comebacker right at Jeffress’ head. The pitcher fell back awkwardly and somehow gloved the screamer as he ducked out of the way.
Praise for Buckner
Baldelli grew up in Rhode Island when Bill Buckner played for the Red Sox, and though he never met the former NL batting champion, he said he knew Buckner, who died Monday at age 69, by reputation. The manager made it clear he is unhappy most obituaries emphasized Buckner’s infamous error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
“I was very sad to hear that news today. I think everyone in New England knows Bill Buckner, and more people in New England should talk about Bill Buckner as a good guy,” Baldelli said. “He was a very highly respected individual as a person, and you can talk about his baseball career on top of that, too. Because he had a hell of a career that should be talked about more than anything else.”