ARLINGTON, Texas — This isn’t some kind of insider secret.
Mitch Garver would prefer to catch rather than serve as a designated hitter. He likes the rhythm and flow behind the plate more than the view from the bench. His career numbers in both of those spots certainly reflect that; he’s a .267 career hitter as a catcher, a .203 career hitter at DH.
But, more than anything else and regardless of the position he plays at, Garver believes that consistent playing time above all else will bring out his best.
It’s hard to call the man a liar lately. Garver, the DH in the Rangers’ 6-5 walk off win vs. the Minnesota Twins on Sunday at Globe Life Field, went 4 for 4 with two home runs and four RBIs and carried an offense that struggled with runners in scoring position. It was Garver’s fourth career four-hit game and ninth multi-home run game.
It extended the best stretch of Garver’s two-year career in Texas, one where he’s hit .308 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 30 games. Five of those home runs have come in the last 10 games, and four have come against the Twins, his former team.
And, what do you know, that run has lined up with Garver’s daily insertion into Texas’ lineup — first as an everyday catcher in the absence of Jonah Heim, now as a part-time backstop, part-time DH since the All-Star returned from the injured list on Aug. 13. He’s played in 17 of the Rangers’ last 18 games, but started at catcher in just five of them.
“It all comes with more plate appearances, really,” Garver said. “and getting more comfortable playing every day. When I’ve struggled in the past it was like, ‘catch, off two days, DH, off a day, catch,’ stuff like that. It’s just being more consistent with at-bats.”
The good news: Don’t expect manager Bruce Bochy to take him out of the lineup very often moving forward. Garver hit a three-run home run in the first inning of Sunday’s game to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead, then hit a solo shot in the seventh inning to give them a 5-4 lead. He sprinkled two singles in between.
“He’s done a terrific job since he’s been pressed into everyday duty, catching, DHing,” Bochy said. “What a shot in the arm he’s been. He’s been one of the really great things that, I think, has happened to this offense, is the emergence of Mitch being who he is.”