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Now out for season, Twins catcher Castro 'looking at a long rehab'

Minnesota Twins catcher Jason Castro is lost for the 2018 season with a knee injury. “He’s looking at a long rehab,” manager Paul Molitor said Wednesday, May 16. Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins catcher Jason Castro is out for the rest of the season after surgery on his right knee Tuesday, May 15, in Vail, Colo., turned out to be more involved than expected.

Rather than remove a portion of the torn meniscus in Castro’s knee, as magnetic resonance imaging exams had suggested, Dr. Robert LaPrade of The Steadman Clinic went ahead and did a full repair of the meniscus. Castro will have a rehabilitation period of five to six months.

“The tear was a little bit more significant,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “They decided to try to keep what he had left. They thought that was the best course of action for him as far as prolonging his career and productivity.”

Castro, 30, signed a three-year, $24.5 million deal with the Twins as a free agent in November 2016. About $5.89 million remains in 2018 with another $8 million due Castro in 2019, when “there is some real optimism” about his ability to make a full recovery, Molitor said.

“He’s looking at a long rehab,” Molitor said. “They decided to try to save what they could of the meniscus to try to prevent a bone-on-bone situation moving forward. Through sutures, they tried to save what he has. He was on board … that he wanted to protect his future.”

Hitting just .143 with 26 strikeouts in 74 plate appearances, Castro missed all of 2011 with a torn ACL in his right knee and also had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee in September 2013. Because of that knee history, the Twins are unlikely to recoup any of the value of Castro’s remaining contract through insurance.

Rookie Mitch Garver, 27, and 35-year-old journeyman Bobby Wilson will continue to share catching duties for the Twins.

“It doesn’t change how we’re going to operate here in the short term,” Molitor said. “If we stay the same, I think we’ll all be fine. It’s going to give these guys an opportunity. We’re kind of mixing and matching day to day. It’s one of those hurdles that come along when you lose a guy that you’re counting on and you’ve  got to find ways to make do.”

Drafted 10th overall out of Stanford in 2008, Castro spent his first nine professional seasons in the Houston Astros organization, including his lone all-star selection in 2013. He had 20 percent of his meniscus removed that September, which played into Tuesday’s decision.

Castro’s condition bothered him more at the plate and on the bases than when squatting behind the plate, where he was throwing out a career-best 40 percent (six of 15) of attempted base stealers.

“Things are never perfect,” Molitor said. “We did what we thought was right, given how he felt and what he thought he was capable of doing.”

While Garver is slugging .424 through 59 at-bats and Wilson is an accomplished receiver who hit a two-run homer in Tuesday’s 4-1 win, the loss of Castro’s game-planning skills and in-game instincts, from pitch calling to pitch framing, is significant.

“His retention of the information that is given is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Molitor said. “He doesn’t need to have the cheat sheet.”

Garver OK

Garver threw out Dexter Fowler on a stolen-base attempt in the third inning, one pitch after taking a foul tip off his mask.

Garver also required a visit from Molitor and head athletic trainer Tony Leo in the first inning after a Tommy Pham struck him on the side of his neck two pitches into the game.

“I took a few good shots,” Garver said. “The first one was in the neck, then I took two off the facemask pretty hard. I didn’t have any concussion symptoms. I didn’t need to come out of the game, but it definitely hurt.”

Cano reaction

Twins closer Fernando Rodney is among several former teammates and friends of Seattle Mariners star Robinson Cano, who received an 80-game suspension on Tuesday after testing positive for the diuretic furosemide.

“That’s going to be like a family situation,” said Rodney, who pitched in Seattle for two seasons (2014-15). “We feel sad. We wish it didn’t happen. Like he said, he’s been in the big leagues 14 years and he’s never had a problem like that.”

Cano, a longtime mentor of Twins third baseman Miguel Sano, also played with Phil Hughes in New York and Logan Morrison in Seattle. Rodney said he planned to reach out soon to Cano.

“Maybe next week, when everything calms down, I’ll talk to him,” Rodney said. “He’s a good teammate, a good player. This guy plays great defense. He has Hall of Fame numbers, but we’ll see what happens.”