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Garver gets start at catcher; Sano progressing

Even with Castro off DL, Molitor sticks with rookie vs. Rays
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins catcher Jason Castro was eligible to return to the lineup for the series opener against the Rays on Monday, but manager Paul Molitor felt it was best to go with Mitch Garver behind the plate due to the chemistry Garver has with starter Jose Berrios.

Castro (concussion) was reinstated Sunday from the seven-day disabled list. Berrios is coming off his best start of the season, in which he threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox with a career high-tying 11 strikeouts and just one walk. Garver was his battery mate for that start.

Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins catcher Jason Castro was eligible to return to the lineup for the series opener against the Rays on Monday, but manager Paul Molitor felt it was best to go with Mitch Garver behind the plate due to the chemistry Garver has with starter Jose Berrios.

Castro (concussion) was reinstated Sunday from the seven-day disabled list. Berrios is coming off his best start of the season, in which he threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox with a career high-tying 11 strikeouts and just one walk. Garver was his battery mate for that start.

Full Game Coverage

The 26-year-old Garver, who is hitting .242 with a pair of triples in 10 games, has impressed the team with his baseball acumen since being recalled on Aug. 18.

"He is what I had hoped I would see," Molitor said. "The maturity and the intelligence he brings behind the plate with his game-planning and pitch-calling, and he's had good at-bats. He hasn't had a ton of success in terms of results when he's swinging, but I like how he's going about it."

Video: ARI@MIN: Garver gets first career hit

Castro (.229/.327/.370) is expected to start Tuesday, and Molitor said he would likely sit out Wednesday with left-hander Blake Snell starting for Tampa Bay.

"Physically, as far as the concussion, I think he is fine," Molitor said.

Sano progressing

Third baseman Miguel Sano hit the ball off a tee Monday. It was his first time swinging a bat since being placed on the 10-day DL on Aug. 21 due to a left shin injury.

"We're hoping he handled that well, and we'll try to increase his baseball activities throughout the week if the leg allows him to do that," Molitor said.

Sano did not make the trip to Florida. Molitor did not give a timetable for him, but added that Sano could progress to full batting practice over the next few days.

"If we can progress the baseball skills along, it's just a matter of when we can get him out there to try to jog a little and hopefully get built up where he can get around the bases. Then maybe we can start thinking about how he might contribute. It's getting closer to a day-to-day situation, but we're not there yet."

Sano is the Twins' leader in home runs (28) and RBIs (77) this season.

Video: ARI@MIN: Sano unleashes a two-run homer to left

Santiago struggles, return in doubt

The return of starting pitcher Hector Santiago has been delayed after he was roughed up in his rehabilitation start for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. Santiago (4-8, 5.63 ERA) allowed six runs -- five earned -- in four innings. The left-hander, who has not pitched for Minnesota since July 2, has had trouble regaining his velocity in his six rehab starts for the Twins' affiliate.

"He's still having some issues somewhere in the back of his neck and shoulder area," Molitor said. "I think his arm feels fine, but he's not throwing the way we know he's capable of, so we are going to have to figure out what the next step should be."

His return for the 2017 season is now in jeopardy after being transferred to the 60-day DL on Friday. Santiago can become a free agent at the end of the season.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Twins on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Mitch Garver