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Twins catcher Mitch Garver hopes to return soon after clean MRI on right knee

Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver (43) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sept. 4, 2017. Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tests on the right knee of backup catcher Mitch Garver showed no structural damage, leaving the Twins' reigning minor league player of the year hopeful of returning to game action as soon as Sunday, March 4.

"There's no tear," Garver said Friday morning. "There's nothing severe. It's just some swelling, some fluid behind the kneecap."

The plan was for Garver, 27, to do some throwing and maybe light hitting on Friday as he eases back into a full baseball load. Initially slated to play left field for the first time this spring on Thursday, Garver instead traveled back to Hammond Stadium after Wednesday's game against the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach for a magnetic resonance imaging exam.

Facing a first-and-third situation in the first inning Wednesday, the Twins threw home to Garver for what could have been a costly double play.

"I chased (George) Springer back to third base," Garver said. "He gave up fairly easily but he tried to duck under the tag, and I reached down and just hyperextended my right knee. Finished the play. Tagged out (Jose) Altuve. Then I finished out the next four innings."

Garver was catching lefty Stephen Gonsalves and decided to power through what he deemed a minor annoyance.

"It was nothing I hadn't played through before," he said. "When I came out of the game I said, 'All right, it's starting to tighten up.'"

The knee was "pretty stiff" when Garver woke up Thursday morning, but he said he shouldn't keep him from seeing some spring time at first base and left field as well as his primary spot, where he is expected to be the primary backup to Jason Castro.

Castro, originally slated to bat ninth Friday, was scratched from the lineup because of a migraine. Willians Astudillo took his place as the Twins chose to rest veteran Bobby Wilson after he took a foul tip off his throwing hand on Thursday.

Garver, who caught a career-high 80 games last season between Triple-A Rochester and the major leagues, said his last knee trouble was during his high school soccer days in Albuquerque.

"I had a little strain or sprain back then, but that was it," he said. "I've always had good knees."


Logan Morrison and Jake Odorizzi made successful Twins' spring debuts in Friday's 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Morrison, signed as a free agent on Wednesday, saw 17 pitches in his three trips, fouling off eight of those. He struck out, drilled a stand-up triple to center and fouled out.

"He got a lot of swings — a lot of good swings," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Other than the very first one, he looked on time. I was a little worried when I saw the ball get by the center fielder. Running a triple out as opposed to doing what he's been doing, it's different."

Odorizzi, meanwhile, fell one out shy of a three-inning stint on his 48 pitches. He got ahead with strike one to just four of 10 batters but struck out three while allowing no hits or walks and working around a pair of errors: Polanco's and a dropped fly ball by Max Kepler.

The Feb. 17 trade acquisition also had to deal with the late switch to Astudillo, to whom he'd never even spoken, much less thrown to from the mound.

"I told him, 'Don't feel bad if I shake you off,'" Odorizzi said. "'You don't know me. I really don't know you.' It was fine. I'm not a guy that's very picky. Just put the glove on the plate."


Right-hander Michael Kohn, who suffered an acute injury to his right biceps while throwing a pitch on Wednesday against the Astros, has left camp for further evaluation at the Mayo Clinic. Kohn, 31, has fought back from multiple injuries after making 132 relief outings for the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves from 2010-15.

Infielder Ehire Adrianza, in a battle for the final utility spot with newly signed veteran Erick Aybar, said he gained eight pounds of muscle this offseason and is playing at 200 pounds for the "first time in my life."

Middle infield prospect Nick Gordon continues to receive treatment on his sprained right wrist after jamming it on a headfirst slide into third base Tuesday night. He was still waiting to be cleared for a return to baseball activities.

Due to a pair of snow-canceled flights to the New York area, Ervin Santana's follow-up visit with his hand surgeon, Dr. Charles Melone, has been pushed back to Monday. Santana, who had Feb. 6 surgery on his right middle finger, is due to shed his cast and the surgical stitches as well.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew, a Twins special assistant, has arrived in camp.