Mariners Injury Updates: Lewis to return Friday, Haniger starting rehab stint

Jul 21, 2022, 10:32 AM | Updated: 11:14 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 and their 14-game winning streak will return from the All-Star Break to a sellout crowd Friday night against the AL West-leading Houston Astros. They should have a pretty big reinforcement for that game as well.

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During his weekly visit with The Mike Salk Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto shared two promising injury updates for star Seattle sluggers and also discussed the possibility of an All-Star moving positions for the second half of 2022.

Kyle Lewis to return Friday

After starting the season on the injured list due to a right knee injury that ended his 2021 campaign early, 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis returned to the Mariners in late-May and slugged two home runs.

Unfortunately for both Lewis and the Mariners, his return to the lineup was short-lived as he was hit by a pitch in the head as his helmet fell off on May 28 and he has not appeared in an MLB game since.

But Lewis has been playing in games for both High-A Everett and Triple-A Tacoma in recent weeks and Dipoto told Salk that the 2016 first-round pick will be added to the Mariners’ roster for Friday’s game.

“Fingers crossed, we’ll see him tomorrow night,” Dipoto said.

Will Lewis be in the lineup on Friday?

“That is the expectation. Barring a late surprise, that is in motion,” he said. “I don’t know that he’ll be in the lineup, but he will be on our roster, for certain. The lineup is up to (manager Scott Servais), but we’ll see how that plays out. We do expect Kyle to be part of the part of the group tomorrow.”

Lewis started his pro career as a center fielder and he has suffered multiple injuries to the same knee since he was drafted. He played center field in both 2020 and 2021, but during his four-game stint in May, he was the team’s designated hitter.

Lewis has played some outfield in his rehab assignment and has gotten defensive work in at T-Mobile Park before Mariner games. So what’s the plan for him position-wise?

“He won’t play the outfield every day, obviously. That’s not something that we feel great about,” Dipoto said. “He has played the outfield a couple of times during this rehab stint and he feels confident that he can do it. So getting him out in left field, probably against left-handed pitching to alleviate the need to move players around the lineup. With Carlos Santana swinging such a hot bat, with Jesse Winker, swinging a hot bat, we want to make sure that we’re keeping all of the best players on the field as frequently as we can. But we’ll still need to give Kyle some breaks and scheduled rests.”

The designated hitter spot will be a key one to keep an eye on going forward.

“(Lewis) won’t play every day, and this will allow us to create that rotation. And really when Mitch (Haniger) comes back, it’ll be in full gear and we’ll watch the players rotate through that DH spot like we had envisioned at the start of the season,” Dipoto said.

Mitch Haniger begins rehab assignment

Speaking of Haniger, the 2018 All-Star who slugged 39 home runs last year has played in just nine games this year due to a long bout with COVID-19 as well as a high-ankle sprain.

The ankle sprain is what’s kept Haniger out of the lineup for most of 2022, as he rolled his ankle in his first game back after returning from the COVID IL on April April 29.

But Haniger will begin a rehab assignment on Friday with Everett, the team announced Wednesday evening.

So what’s the plan and timeline for Haniger?

“We’ll just take it day-by-day. Sometime over the next two to three weeks, we should have Mitch back in our major league fold,” Dipoto said. “Obviously we’ll move into the water slowly. I think a couple of DH days to start (his rehab assignment), and then we’ll start introducing outfield play. And as soon as Mitch has his timing down and his legs underneath him, he’ll be back in our lineup.”

When Everett tweeted out that Haniger will be playing for the Aquasox Friday through Sunday, that led some to believe Haniger could return to the Mariners on Monday. That’s not the case. The Aquasox hit the road Monday, so Haniger will then join Tacoma if all goes well this weekend in Everett.

“We’ll keep him here in the Seattle area,” Dipoto said. ” … We are going to make sure — and Mitch will help us to make sure — that that he is fully ready to go before we run him back out on a big league field. And that’s going to be complete games in the outfield and playing the outfield on back-to-back days. Things of that nature need to be checked off before we activate him at the major league level.”

Ty France sliding over?

If you’re looking at a Mariners roster that includes Lewis and Haniger, you may soon realize that it’s going to be difficult to get all of Seattle’s top hitters in the same lineup given the players’ positions.

Haniger and Lewis will join star rookie Julio Rodriguez and a surging Jesse Winker as Seattle’s four top outfield options while sweet-swinging All-Star Ty France and Carlos Santana both play first base. With there being three outfield positions, one first base spot and one designated hitter role, that would leave one of the aforementioned six sluggers on the outside looking in.

But the Mariners could get all six of those players in the same lineup if France slides over to second base, a position he’s played before in the minors and at the MLB level, including last season for Seattle.

Could wee see France move from first base to second going forward?

“I don’t know the answer to that question, to be honest with you,” Dipoto said. “That’s going to be up to Scott and up to Ty France.”

Dipoto noted that France recently was on the IL with a left elbow sprain, and that he’s been a very good defender at first base since making the full-time move to that position last season.

“We won’t ask him to do anything that he’s not comfortable doing. And he’s also been a borderline Gold Glove-quality first baseman, and he was in consideration for the award last year and we think he’s doing equally as good a job this year. So moving him has has its detractions as well,” Dipoto said. “And I guess additionally, with (utility players) Sam Haggerty and Dylan Moore and what has been a resurgent Adam Frazier over the last week or 10 days, that complicates matters further. But you just find a way to get your best players in the lineup and keep them fresh for as long as you can. And this will give us a chance in the second half to really allow guys to get that extra day of rest, that way we’re not running on fumes when we come down the pike at the end.”

Listen to the full Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.

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