Mariners’ Kyle Lewis is back: 2020 AL ROY returns after year out

May 24, 2022, 1:51 PM | Updated: May 25, 2022, 11:20 am

Mariners Kyle Lewis...

Kyle Lewis in action against for the Mariners against the Baltimore Orioles on May 3, 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners have confirmed a big return for Tuesday night, and it’s important news for a couple of reasons.

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On Seattle Sports’ weekly Scott Servais Show with the Mariners manager, Servais said that Kyle Lewis will return from the injured list on Tuesday night to be the designated hitter for the Mariners’ second game of a three-game series against the Oakland A’s.

The two reasons that is important: first, it’s been nearly a year since Lewis, the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year, has played an MLB game in nearly a year due to a torn meniscus in his right knee that needed to be surgically repaired; second, a Mariners’ lineup that has been depleted by injury and struggled over the last month could really use his bat.

The Mariners made the move official around 5 p.m. Tuesday, optioning left-handed pitcher Danny Young to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for Lewis’ activation from the IL.

Lewis, 26, has just completed a rehab assignment with Tacoma, where he hit .314 with three home runs, two doubles, five walks, six strikeouts and a 1.044 OPS in 10 games. It was his first action ever in Triple-A, as he was promoted to the Mariners directly from Double-A late in the 2019 season.

Servais was clearly happy to share the news during his regular weekly interview with Seattle Sports’ Jake Heaps and Stacy Rost on Tuesday afternoon, which airs as part of The Dugout, an hour of Jake and Stacy dedicated to Mariners interviews and analysis. When Rost asked Servais when fans could see Lewis back on the field at T-Mobile Park, he had a little fun with it.

“How about tonight? You guys good with that?” Servais responded. “… He will be our DH tonight.”

Lewis last played for the Mariners on May 31, 2021, when his injury occurred while running back in center field after a fly ball. His right knee has been a constant issue throughout his pro career, first with a torn ACL suffered in a collision at the plate in Single-A in 2016 shortly after he was drafted by the Mariners in the first round of the MLB Draft. It took multiple years before Lewis returned to 100%, but he exploded on the scene in the majors. Unfortunately, a bone bruise in the same knee from hitting it on the outfield wall in a spring training game resulted in him starting last season on the IL, and he played just 36 games after returning before tearing his meniscus.

The Mariners will limit Lewis to DH for the most part, at least early on his return. He played defense just once during his rehab assignment in his second game with the Rainiers, and his knee didn’t respond like hoped. As a result, he was exclusively a DH with Tacoma from then on.

“He will be in the DH spot (Tuesday), and you probably won’t see him play a lot of outfield here in the near future,” Servais said. “(If he plays the field) will all be determined with how he’s doing health-wise. I think the biggest thing is, how is he responding? He played the outfield (one game) in his Triple-A rehab stint and it took him a little while to bounce back from that. We just thought at the time, best for our team and for him to impact our team at the big league level is just let’s get him in the DH role, let’s get him going and see where it takes us. I don’t know how it’s all gonna play out. I do know he can swing the bat and he’s a good hitter, and that’s what fires me up getting him in the lineup today.”

The Mariners could certainly use his help on offense. Runs have been hard to come by for Seattle following the injuries to All-Star outfielder Mitch Haniger (high-ankle sprain) and catcher Tom Murphy (dislocated shoulder), and Lewis has been a solid contributor in his limited time in the big leagues. In 112 games with the Mariners, Lewis has a .258/.343/.450 slash line with 22 homers, 12 doubles, 52 RBIs and a .792 OPS.

“It’s exciting,” Servais said. “Kyle’s a heck of a player. We saw what he can do on the field when healthy and what he means to our team and our lineup. But yeah, it’s been a while, and I’m super excited to get him out there again. Just excited to get his bat in the lineup, his presence. It does make our lineup a whole lot longer when he’s in there.”

You can listen to Tuesday’s full Scott Servais Show at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

The Mariners play the Oakland A’s at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday night. The radio broadcast of the game will be carried live on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM, the flagship of the Mariners Radio Network. Coverage starts at 5:30 with the pregame show.

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