Mariners activate Lewis for 2nd half opener, Upton elects free agency

Jul 22, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:05 pm
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)

After missing nearly two months due to a concussion, outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Lewis is back on the Mariners’ 26-man roster.

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The Mariners made the move official Friday, just a few hours before the team opens the second half of the season against the Houston Astros.

Lewis joins a Seattle team that enters Friday’s ballgame riding a 14-game winning streak.

In order to make room for Lewis on the roster, veteran outfielder Justin Upton – who was signed in May a week before Lewis’ injury – was optioned, but he elected free agency.

Lewis, 27, was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2016 and burst onto the scene in 2019 when he homered in each of his first three MLB games. He carried that over to 2020 when he was the unanimous American League Rookie of the Year.

But Lewis’ career has been paused numerous times due to injury.

Lewis suffered numerous torn ligaments in his right knee early in his minor league career and had another cleanup surgery on that same knee later on. In 2021, Lewis started the year on the injured list with a bone bruise in that same right knee before tearing his meniscus in that knee after playing in just 36 games.

Recovery from that surgery delayed Lewis’ start to the 2022 season until the end of May, when he played in four games against the Oakland A’s and Astros before being hit in the head with a pitch as his helmet fell off, causing a concussion that sidelined him from May 28 until this Friday, July 22. He hit two home runs for the Mariners during those four games.

The young slugger started his career as a center fielder but due to the knee injuries, he was Seattle’s designated hitter in the four games he played in May. He has played some corner outfield during his rehab assignments, and has also been working out at those spots in Seattle.

Mariners president of baseball operations told Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Mike Salk Show Thursday that Lewis would be added to the roster, but that it wasn’t a certainty he’d be in the lineup. Dipoto said Lewis can and will play some corner outfield, but that he won’t be in the field every day, or play every day as they want to give him “some breaks and scheduled rests.”

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For Upton, the 16-year veteran appeared in 17 games for the Mariners, slashing .125/.263/.203 with one home run and three RBIs.

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