Garver to IL, but good news on ankle sprain

May 15th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mitch Garver sustained a left high ankle sprain and was placed on the 10-day injured list following a collision at the plate in the Twins' 4-3 win over the Angels on Tuesday night, but an MRI on Wednesday morning yielded positive signs, and both Garver and manager Rocco Baldelli were encouraged by the injury appearing less serious than originally feared.

"Obviously still a situation where we're going to put him on the injured list -- and we'll probably stay away from getting too specific on length of time that he could be out -- but something where it could be shorter rather than longer," Baldelli said.

Garver, who was walking around in a boot on Wednesday morning, said that there was no bruising, discoloration or significant inflammation in the area and was only feeling sore. He characterized his condition as the "best-case scenario for a situation like this."

"It could have been a lot worse," Garver said. "It's a tribute to our training staff for not only giving me the training I need to keep flexible ankles and strong ankles, but hopping on it early and getting me taken care of last night and throughout the night. I think I'm set up with a pretty good rehab program.

Byron Buxton’s throw home to cut down Shohei Ohtani preserved Minnesota’s one-run lead in the eighth inning, but the heroics came at a steep cost, as Garver was removed after Ohtani slid into Garver’s left leg as he blocked the plate.

Ohtani had singled off Taylor Rogers before Albert Pujols also poked a single to right against Blake Parker. Brian Goodwin followed with a line-drive single to center field, and as Garver protected the plate with his left foot -- while he received a 98.6-mph throw from Buxton -- Ohtani swept the foot out from under him with a feet-first slide at home.

"Right at contact, there was no immediate pain," Garver said. "Then, two or three seconds in, you could see me go down and you could realize how bad my ankle was hurting. I didn't feel a pop. I didn't hear anything like that. Looking back, it's pretty fortunate I didn't hear that."

Ohtani showed obvious concern for the Twins’ catcher as the pair lay on the dirt around home plate. Athletic trainer Masa Abe and Baldelli examined Garver, who could not put any weight onto his left foot as he was helped off the field.

"I do see him lean over and pat me on the shoulder," Garver said. "That's a really nice thing to do. He didn't have to do that at all. It was a clean slide after looking at it. That's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to slide right into home plate. That's just the way it works out. No harm done in that aspect."

Garver had continued his breakout campaign with a two-run homer in the third inning, his ninth long ball of the season. He was hitting .329/.418/.747 at the time of his injury, and his power surge was a significant factor in the Twins’ MLB-leading 15 homers from the catcher position this season.

Garver had also worked hard on his receiving skills throughout the offseason and Spring Training with Minor League catching coordinator Tanner Swanson, and had been optimistic about his continued improvement on defense.

"Sometimes, a guy can get offensive-minded and lose his way back there a little bit behind the plate," starter Kyle Gibson said. "Garver, even though he's been one of our best hitters, really cares about how good he is defensively and worked really hard on it this spring. He's meant a lot to us defensively, just handling the staff."

The 28-year-old Garver had entered the game tied with the Cubs’ Willson Contreras and the Astros’ Robinson Chirinos for the MLB lead among catchers with 1.5 fWAR.