MINNEAPOLIS -- Mitch Garver isn't worried about crouching behind the plate and putting his body on the line again following his recovery -- even though that would be more than understandable considering what he's been through with the foul ball off his groin area that necessitated emergency surgery on June 1.
He's making sure of one thing, though: He's going to be wearing a different cup.
"I got hit last year in September when I was rehabbing my intercostal," Garver said. "I got hit in St. Paul and I had to miss three more days because I had to go to the hospital and get an ultrasound. Same thing, same cup, so not using that cup anymore."
Garver and his new cup are now quickly on the track to recovery after the Twins got him back on his feet at the start of this six-game homestand against Cleveland and Cincinnati, with the catcher saying that his hope is to catch bullpen sessions and possibly appear in a rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul by next weekend.
He played catch at 120 feet before Friday's game against Cleveland and said the plan is for him to start running by Sunday and hitting by Monday or Tuesday. He would ramp up his running, catching and hitting activities throughout the week ahead of the possible final step into games.
The 2019 American League Silver Slugger Award winner at catcher had been in the midst of a resurgence at the plate following his struggles with an intercostal strain throughout last season. His OPS this season was up to .833 by the time he got injured, thanks in large part to his .281/.438/.579 line in May, good for a 1.017 OPS that month.
Garver did acknowledge that he had to face the unknowns of playing the game head-on due to this experience, but he's still set to return to his position with confidence knowing he hadn't dealt with anything quite this severe in his career at the position before this incident.
"There's trepidation, of course," Garver said. "There's trepidation every time you step on a baseball field. You really don't know when's the last time you're going to play. I was going into that Baltimore game, we were four pitches in, I was like, 'This is going to be great.' And then I was in the hospital two hours later getting surgery.
"So you really don't know what's going to happen every time you step on the field. You've got to have some kind of fear, or else you're not human."
Twins catch Rosario napping
Eddie Rosario had second base stolen. And then, he was out anyway.
The Twins' infield generated a heads-up out to end the sixth inning of Thursday's 4-1 loss to Cleveland, when catcher Ben Rortvedt's throw to second to nab Rosario on a steal attempt went wide, leading Rosario to take a few steps toward third base. When Rosario looked away, Jorge Polanco suddenly had the ball at second -- in time to tag Rosario out while he was meandering back to the bag.
None of that was coordinated by the Twins' infield in the moment. Think of it as the Andrelton Simmons effect.
"There wasn't any communication during that play," Polanco said. "It just happened. I know what kind of guy [Simmons] is. I know he's a heads-up guy and he likes to make those plays. He's a sneaky guy. I've got to be ready."
Polanco says that it didn't take long to understand that he always had to have his head on a swivel with Simmons as his infield partner. Whenever the shortstop gets his hands on the ball, he's immediately scanning the field to see if there's an extra out to be made somewhere -- an opportunity to catch anyone napping with his superior awareness.
That's why, as Simmons snagged Rortvedt's errant throw away from the second-base bag, Polanco was already creeping over towards second -- just in case. They were on exactly the same page, and Simmons quickly tossed Polanco the ball for the out.
"I just know I've got to be ready for anything with Simba playing shortstop," Polanco said. "He's a guy that's always trying to get an out, no matter what the situation is, no matter how. He's always heads-up."
"Honestly, having someone like Simba, it's always like, he's raised his awareness to always watch baserunners, behind people, that kind of stuff, so it's little facets of the game that I'm getting used to that I'm now picking up on," said Rortvedt, a rookie 21 games into his big league career. "That's pretty cool."
And, of course, Polanco had a lot of fun with the fact that the victim was Rosario, his longtime friend and teammate.
"It makes it more fun that it happened to be Eddie," Polanco said. "After the game, I talked to him about it. We had fun about it."