MINNEAPOLIS -- In what comes as an unpleasant surprise for the Twins, catcher Jason Castro will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. He was originally expected to miss four to six weeks, but there was more damage than expected.
Castro, who was diagnosed with a slight tear to his meniscus, was scheduled to have a small part of it removed. Once doctors operated on his knee, they decided to keep what they could of the meniscus and repair it instead, as it gives him a better prognosis for the rest of his career. Castro already lost 30 percent of his meniscus to another operation. He missed the 2011 season with a torn right ACL and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee after the '13 season.
"Things did not go as well as hoped with the surgery," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "As can be the case from time to time, MRI imaging didn't give us a clear picture of what was going on in there. The tear was more significant. Instead of a partial meniscectomy, they had to go ahead and fully repair that meniscus and keep what was left. They thought that was the best action as far as prolonging his career."
Castro, 30, played through the injury early in the season, hitting .143/.257/.238 with a homer and three RBIs in 19 games. It bothered him more while hitting and running than catching, and he was ultimately placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 5 with the hope that he could return once eligible.
But the injury proved to much more serious than expected, although Castro is expected to be ready for the 2019 season. Castro remains under contract through next year after a signing a three-year, $24.5 million deal prior to last season.
"Part of the decision to do what they did was for Jason's best chance to come back next year and put this behind him," Molitor said. "I think there's some real optimism."
With Castro out, rookie Mitch Garver and veteran Bobby Wilson will share catching duties with Willians Astudillo at Triple-A Rochester as depth. There's always a chance they could go outside the organization for catching help, but Molitor said the plan right now is to stick with Garver and Wilson.
"It doesn't change how we are or how we operate here in the short-term," Molitor said. "If we stay the same, we'll all be fine. We're going to give these guys an opportunity each day. We don't have any idea of the percentages or the majority for Bobby and Mitch, but it's one of those hurdles that comes along when you lose a guy you're counting on. You have to kind of make do. I have a lot of confidence. Since Jason has gone down, they've both done some things to show they're able to help us win."
Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said the Twins could look to add to their catching depth via the trade market, but he also said it's unlikely they sign any available free-agent catchers.
"We feel like we're protected in a pinch, but we're going to pursue potential opportunities if we can in that space," Falvey said. "We feel pretty good about Bobby and Mitch, but that doesn't mean if there's an opportunity that presents itself that we wouldn't pursue it."
Garver, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored in Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Cardinals, figures to be the starting catcher in Castro's absence, and he said he's excited for the opportunity, although it's not the way he envisioned it happening with Castro's injury.
"We're going to miss him," Garver said. "It's gonna be a learning experience. Every game is a learning experience. There's so much I try to pull away, both positive and negative, to try and get better the next day. Whether it's pitch-calling, or defense or offensively, you've just gotta try to pick up something every day and improve in the game."