Mariners’ Kyle Lewis swinging bat well, ‘hopefully really close’ to return

May 19, 2022, 11:04 AM
Mariners Kyle Lewis...
Kyle Lewis of the Mariners hits a two-run home run against the Oakland Athletics in 2021. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Kyle Lewis, the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year, hasn’t appeared in a Mariners game in nearly a year due to a torn right meniscus that required surgery last year.

Well, the moment of his return may finally be days away.

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Lewis has been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma this month, and the allotted 20 days for the assignment will be up on Monday. On Thursday morning’s Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM, the Mariners general manager and president of baseball operations was optimistic Lewis could be in the Mariners’ lineup after they conclude their current road trip with a four-game series in Boston that starts Thursday.

“Hopefully really close,” Dipoto told Mike Salk when asked about when Lewis could be back. “Truth be told, his rehab assignment concludes on Monday so we’ll have some answer as to what we do moving forward by then, whether that is taking a little bit more time – ending the rehab assignment and starting a new one – or it’s potentially activating him when we begin our homestand (Monday).”

The right knee of Lewis, 26, has been a recurring issue in his pro career. Shortly after debuting in the minor leagues following his selection in the first round of the MLB Draft by Seattle in 2016, a collision at home plate resulted in a major leg injury, including a torn ACL, that took years for him to get back to full strength from. Then after making an immediate impact in the big leagues in late 2019 and during the shortened 2020 season, he started 2021 on the injured list due to a bone bruise on that same knee that came from hitting it on the wall jumping at a fly ball in spring training. He returned to appear in 36 games but tore his meniscus tracking a ball in center field on May 31.

Lewis, who has a career .258/.343/.450 slash line for a .793 OPS with 22 home runs in 112 MLB games, started his rehab assignment with the Rainiers on May 3. He played again on May 4 but didn’t appear in back-to-back games again until Tuesday and Wednesday as his knee wasn’t quite recovering as fast as the Mariners were hoping for. He’s played just one game on defense in left field, spending the other seven as the designated hitter. There are two pieces of good news, though: first, Lewis is 10 for 30 (.333) with three homers, two doubles and three walks in his eight games with Tacoma, and second, he could play a third straight day Thursday.

“He’s performed very well,” Dipoto said. “Yesterday was his first time playing back-to-back games (since the start of the rehab assignment), which is a really good sign for us. Today and through the weekend, we’ll find out how he feels coming back from those back-to-back games. There’s no question he’s swinging the bat well. It’s been a really productive rehab assignment. It’s not been as robust as we would like in terms of the number of games he’s played, but as long as he’s coming out of it feeling good and feels like he can contribute, there’s no question he’s one of our best offensive players. To add him would be a real shot in the arm.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. each Thursday on Seattle Sports Station. You can listen to this week’s full edition in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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