MINNEAPOLIS – Only two weeks after sustaining a high left ankle sprain, Mitch Garver has progressed to the point where he is ready to begin a rehab assignment. He could return to the Twins as soon as this weekend.
Garver was headed to Double-A Pensacola on Monday night for his rehab assignment. The plan is for him to use Tuesday as a workout day to run the bases and then to catch five innings Wednesday against Mississippi. Assuming no setbacks, Garver likely would not catch on Thursday but then catch a full game on Friday.
Though Garver was unable to run the bases in Minneapolis on Monday as planned due to the inclement weather in the Twin Cities throughout the afternoon, he said that he has passed all of his agility tests and is happy with the condition of his ankle. Garver had done some swinging and straight-line running and had caught a bullpen in Minneapolis.
"As far as I’m concerned, the training staff is concerned, my ankle is healthy and we’re ready to go," Garver said.
Garver was injured May 14 during a home-plate collision. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani slid into the ankle as Garver blocked the plate with his left foot. Though many high ankle sprains carry a recovery time of four to six weeks, Garver said that he wasn't necessarily surprised by his speedy recovery.
"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 that I’m both flexible and strong in all of my joints, that’s a real tribute to how much work I put in.
"I worked really hard to get healthy and get back to where I am. A lot of credit to the training staff to get me where I am, but I was ready for that."
Garver was slashing .329/.418/.747 with a 201 wRC+ in 25 games before his injury. Despite missing 11 games since, Garver is still second among American League catchers, behind Gary Sanchez, with nine homers.
Parker, Rogers not worried about lack of work
The Twins' offense and starting rotation have both been so consistently strong in the last two weeks that the bullpen is running into an enviable problem: Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers, the two high-leverage relievers in the bullpen, aren't getting enough opportunities to pitch.
Parker and Rogers have made a combined five appearances since May 15, and even that is misleading, as it includes a one-pitch outing for Rogers last Tuesday and a three-pitch appearance on Sunday. Parker has twice gone four days between outings in that stretch, while Rogers had a five-day stretch between games.
"I've just been trying to stick to the same schedule," Parker said. "It's been good. It's been fun to watch. I've probably said that a million times this year, but, honestly, sitting down there, staying in the game and watching our boys go to work is fun."
That hasn't been a new development, either. Take a look at Rogers' rest chart, and you'd be forgiven if you thought he was a starter. He has pitched on five days' rest four times this season and has twice gone four days between games. Parker, who has eight saves, has pitched once on five days' rest and four times on four days' rest.
Needing to get Parker some work, manager Rocco Baldelli put Parker into the ninth inning of an 8-1 game against the White Sox on Saturday.
"There does get to a point where the work is needed," Baldelli said. "We just saw it with [Parker] the other day. We could see it again going forward. But something tells me there will be a time where [Rogers], [Parker], maybe some of our other guys, we’re going to need them multiple days in a row, three out of four, and we want them to be ready when that time comes."
Yes, it's a good problem to have, but Rogers acknowledged that getting rusty with all of the days off is certainly an important factor to consider -- but he's learned the hard way not to disrupt his routine for the sake of getting in more work.
"Recently, I think I had some days off and I went and threw a side before the game," Rogers said. "I ended up throwing two innings that night. And then, well, I've wiped myself out for tomorrow. So it's just kind of Murphy's law. If you're going to throw a ’pen, you're probably going to be in the game that night."
Both Parker and Rogers know that it's a long season, and they're both just enjoying the time off their feet and the extra rest it affords them while they still can get it. Both say that they feel particularly fresh now as compared to this point in other seasons.
"I know that in August, I'll want those pitches back," Parker said. "I feel great. Some of the things I feel like I've been working on have been paying off. I was 92-93 [mph] last time. That's after not pitching for four or five days. That's a good step for me. We'll see how I feel come June or July, but so far, it's been really good."
"Just got to keep perspective," Rogers said. "The game always comes back around. At some point, it's going to be one of those weeks where you get used a lot. So I just keep that perspective."