Jerry Dipoto Show: The latest on Mariners’ Kyle Lewis, George Kirby
The Mariners are heading back to Seattle for their home opener Friday at T-Mobile Park, but there are some players who are expected to play roles for the team this year that are still working on things elsewhere.
Atop that list are Kyle Lewis, the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year who is coming back from knee surgery last season, and George Kirby, the team’s top pitching prospect who is currently pitching for Double-A Arkansas after Matt Brash won the battle over him for the final spot in Seattle’s starting rotation to begin the year.
On Thursday’s edition of The Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports Station, the Mariners general manager and president of baseball operations provided updates on those players. Here’s a look at what he had to say.
The 26-year-old Lewis has a history of knee issues as a pro, and as such the Mariners are being cautious bringing him back into the fold.
“He’s doing well in his rehab,” Dipoto told Seattle Sports’ Mike Lefko. “From the very start we decided we are not going to rush (Lewis). We’re just going to make sure that he gets the appropriate time so that he is as close to 100% when he walks out there for the first time on the major league field (as) he can possibly be.”
For now, there is no timetable for Lewis to return to the Mariners, but fans in the Seattle area should get a chance to see him with one of the local M’s minor league affiliates before he rejoins the MLB roster.
“Right now he’s down in Arizona and he’s running through the the appropriate reps, and as soon as our high performance people and Kyle tell us it’s time to go, then he’ll get some opportunity either in extended spring training games down in Arizona or at one of our affiliates, more likely in Everett or Tacoma,” Dipoto said.
Seattle’s 2019 first-round MLB Draft pick got a good look in spring training this year, and while he’s continuing his rise through the minors, his second outing of the season Wednesday was a good sign his MLB debut could come sooner rather than later. Kirby struck out eight and allowed no runs on just two hits and no walks over five innings for the Arkansas Travelers against the Springfield Cardinals, and he was quoted as saying “I kinda feel unstoppable, honestly” after the game.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 14, 2022
“He was terrific,” Dipoto said of Kirby’s Wednesday start. “He filled it up, he had all his pitches working. And, you know, frankly, it was probably the best outing he’s had since the (Mariners’ minor league) minicamp began (in February), and that’s saying something because he did show flashes of what he’s capable of down in spring training. … He put it all together last night. An awesome five-inning outing that gets him started towards the season that we expect them to have.”
And what kind of season might that be? Dipoto said the plan for Kirby is similar to how the Mariners approached Logan Gilbert’s rookie season last year.
“The general lack of innings in (Kirby’s) past is something that we’re at least cognizant of and we want to build him (up) responsibly, so our goal this year is that he pitch somewhere something like what Logan Gilbert did a year ago – you know, hit that 120-130 inning mark and try to be responsible in how we build his innings. And like we did with Logan a year ago, try to preserve as much of that as we can for the possibility if not likelihood that some of it or more of it is spent at the major league level, especially if we have an opportunity to push for a postseason berth toward the end of the season.”
You can catch The Jerry Dipoto Show live at 8:30 a.m. each Thursday on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM. Listen to this week’s edition in the podcast at this link or in the player below.