Somehow, the Twins' injury situation continues to get worse.
Mitch Garver announced via his Instagram story on Wednesday morning that he underwent successful surgery after leaving Tuesday's game against the Orioles due to a foul ball striking his groin area. Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said it will be "a bare minimum of a couple of weeks" before the catcher will return to the field.
In addition to Garver's placement on the 10-day injured list with what the team described as a "severe groin contusion," the Twins also moved emergency center fielder Rob Refsnyder to the seven-day concussion IL due to his collision with the outfield wall on Monday.
Minnesota recalled catcher Ryan Jeffers and center fielder Gilberto Celestino from Triple-A St. Paul in corresponding moves.
The Twins didn't have specifics on Garver's diagnosis or the nature of the surgical procedure, due to the area involved. Garver is out of the hospital and is resting at the team hotel. He's expected to travel to Kansas City with the club before returning to Minneapolis to recover. Garver led the team with a .579 slugging percentage and 183 wRC+ in May.
"He came out of [the procedure] well," Baldelli said. "That being said, this is about as painful of a situation as I think you could really ever see."
The Twins don't expect Garver to need a stint on the 60-day IL, but it will take several weeks for him to start moving around and progressing back to baseball, based on his recovery. In the meantime, Jeffers is expected to earn the majority of playing time as the starting catcher, following a chance to find his bearings at the plate with St. Paul.
Jeffers hit .147/.216/.176 through 11 games with the Twins before he was optioned down at the end of April. He'd spoken about the challenges of finding his bearings at the plate as part of a timeshare with Garver that involved inconsistent playing time -- which should be less of an issue this time around.
"It really gave me the opportunity to dig in on myself, dig in on my swing -- just really hone in on things," Jeffers said. "Because when you’re playing every day, you can kind of find a rhythm and work on things daily, and really start getting your timing and everything."
Celestino makes MLB debut in center field
Two months into the regular season, the Twins are on to their sixth starting center fielder.
Gilberto Celestino, the No. 8 prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, was recalled from Triple-A to start in center field for Wednesday's game, due to Refsnyder's placement on the concussion IL. This represents an acceleration in Celestino's development timeline, but the Twins were left with little choice, with Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Max Kepler and Refsnyder all sidelined with injury.
Once Kepler went on the IL on Sunday after aggravating his left hamstring strain, Minnesota was down to only Refsnyder in center field. When Refsnyder was scratched from Tuesday's lineup, Kyle Garlick was forced to make his professional debut in center.
The 22-year-old Celestino hit .250/.344/.381 with two homers and five doubles in 21 games for Double-A Wichita this season before he was promoted to Triple-A to undergo the COVID intake protocol. He was cleared on Monday afternoon, and didn't appear in a game for the Saints before his promotion to MLB.
"Cellie’s an easy guy to pull for, the way he handles himself as a young player," Baldelli said. "He’s very aggressive in a Major League clubhouse. He’s a very cerebral young guy. He carries himself kind of like an older individual."
Twins highlight local stories for Lou Gehrig Day
As part of MLB's inaugural celebration of Lou Gehrig Day across the league on Wednesday, the Twins highlighted the stories of team Hall of Famer Kent Hrbek and St. Louis Park mother Lynn Giovanelli, who have both worked to raise awareness of ALS within the Twin Cities community.
Hrbek, who played his entire 14-year career with the Twins and anchored first base for the 1987 and '91 World Series champion teams, lost his father to ALS in 1982 and joined the Bally Sports North broadcast to advocate for those affected by the disease. He and his wife, Jeanie, helped form the Minnesota chapter of the ALS Association.
The organization also spotlighted Giovanelli, whose community around St. Louis Park High School rallied around her following her diagnosis. She recently participated in the school's first "Strike Out ALS" night on May 19, where she threw out the first pitch before her youngest son, Stefano, earned the win with five innings on the mound.
"The fact that the Twins organization has always been behind this cause -- it's close, it's personal, and their commitment has been so impressive -- it's a model for the league, I believe," Giovanelli said. "And to see the whole MLB come together behind this cause, it feels powerful. It feels like a breakthrough moment.
"I really do feel like it's a marking moment for patients with ALS, caregivers of someone with ALS and even the medical community. It feels like planting a flag to say we're fighting."