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Former La Cueva High School baseball standout Mitch Garver is back in Albuquerque this week, but maybe not under the circumstances he prefers.  Garver is on a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Round Rock Express.  Garver and the Express are scheduled to play the Albuquerque Isotopes through Sunday. This is the first time Garver’s played a game as a professional in Albuquerque.  It’s been ten years since he last took an at bat in the Duke City.

“With the injury, it’s unfortunate to have to do a rehab assignment, but this is kind of the best-case scenario,” said Garver.  “I get to come home, stay at my parents’ house and they get to see their grandson, and I get a chance to see friends and family here, it’s pretty fun.”

Garver, 32, went on the injured list in early April after suffering a left knee sprain.  This season, he’s batting .263 with the Texas Rangers with a pair of home runs.  This is his second year with the Rangers after four seasons with Minnesota.  The Twins drafted Garver in the 9th round in 2013.

At La Cueva High School, Garver lettered in both soccer and baseball.  He won state championships in both sports in 2008.  Garver was named first team all-state, first team all-district and first team all-metro from 2008-2009.  He earned honorable mention All-American honors in 2009 and was named the La Cueva High School and Albuquerque Public Schools Male Athlete of the Year in 2009.  Garver recognizes the importance of being a multi-sport athlete in high school.

“It’s super important,” he said.  “Not only from a time management standpoint, but from an athletic standpoint, being able to master your skills at a young age and learn how to run and how to throw and how to jump, do all the things you can to make yourself a better athlete.  It will benefit you in the long run, being healthy. I can’t say enough about playing more than one sport.”

After La Cueva, Garver went on to play baseball at the University of New Mexico and become one of the most successful Lobos in the program.  In his final two years at UNM, Garver was named the Mountain West Co-Player of the Year and one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the best collegiate catcher in the country.  Garver became UNM’s Iron Man by starting 181 straight games in his career.  His senior season he led the team in hits (96) and had a 26-game hitting streak (6th longest in school history).

Garver is one of several athletes who played high school baseball in New Mexico and eventually reached the major leagues.  His message to others hoping to follow in his footsteps is there’s a place for you, too.  “There’s an opportunity for everybody,” said Garver.  “If you can play the game and do things the right way, the scouts are going to find you.  Make it to collegiate baseball and keep your grades up and you can make it in the professionals.  You just have to do things the right way, one thing at a time, just get a little better every single day and you might find yourself where myself, and other Albuquerque guys are standing now.”

Garver’s Major League career resume includes 65 home runs in 370 games with the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers.  He would consider his time in the majors so far as a success.  “I gotta say it’s been really successful,” he said.  “I was a senior-sign out of college, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities, I kind of built my way up throughout the minor leagues.  Making it to the Major Leagues was about as important as it could have been and everything else past that has been gravy.  I want to maximize my career and be the best player I can be, whether that means one more year or four more years, whatever it may be, I’m just really fortunate to have been able to do what I’ve done.”

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