Mitch Garver Tells Royce Lewis to Only Run 85% So He Can Stay on Field for Minnesota Twins

Royce Lewis, Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins
Lewis: Jeffrey Becker ; Garver: Stephen Brashear (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins traded (C) Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers back in March, 2022 for Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, who they thought was going to be their starting shortstop for the 2022 season.

Then, two days later, Kiner-Falefa was flipped, along with Josh Donaldson, to the Yankees for (C) Gary Sanchez and (3B) Gio Urshela. Days later, the Twins were gifted Carlos Correa (for the first time).

While all that drama was going down in the weeks that followed Garver being traded away, there wasn’t any of that happening in Texas. Garver did exactly what he was brought there to do. He plattooned for two seasons and even performed much better than expectations in year two (.270/.370/.500), helping the Rangers to the 2023 World Series title.

But in the offseason, Garver signed with the Seattle Mariners, who are in the Twin Cities this week for a four game series vs the Twins, as a free agent. That means, he has been chopping it up with some old teammates, in a locker room that is much more jovial, after winning 13 of 14 games.

Mitch Garver gives Royce Lewis advice to play at 85% for Minnesota Twins

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Aug 16, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Royce Lewis (23) celebrates after hitting a RBI double against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

And one of the former teammates he’s been chatting with is oft-injured young superstar, Royce Lewis, who is currently rehabbing from a torn quadricep. In a quote to Bobby Nightengale (Star Tribune), Mitch apparently told Royce that he needs to start running at only 85%, when he returns from injury, so he can stay on the field.

“You get in those [playoff] situations, and you see who can rise to the occasion,” said Garver, who had three homers and 14 RBI in 14 postseason games last fall. “I was like, ‘Dude, Royce, I loved watching you play in the playoffs last year. That was so much fun. You were made for the playoffs.’ He did it. I was just like, ‘You are worth more on the field than you are off, so run at like 85%.’ “

Mitch Garver on his advice to Royce Lewis on how to stay healthy (Star Tribune)

It’s difficult not to have mixed feelings about Garver’s wisdom. In theory, I agree with him. If someone told me that Lewis running the bases at 85% and being more careful in the field would mean he stays healthy for the rest of the season and postseason, I’d sign up for that in an instant.

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But do we really want our young superstart to be playing the game of baseball at 85%? Part of Royce Lewis’ superpower is the passion at which he plays the game of baseball. If he has to set his internal governor at 85%, what kind of player is he? I’m not sure… but I guess I’d be willing to find out, if it means he stays on the field?

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