When the Minnesota Twins called up 2017 No.1 overall pick Royce Lewis last May, the belief was the talented shortstop was finally ready to contribute to the team that surprisingly chose him with the top overall pick five years earlier. Upon being called up, Lewis played in the outfield because the team has former Houston Astros star Carlos Correa at shortstop.
As Lewis began to show the tools that made him the top pick, with 12 hits in 40 at-bats, two homers and five RBI, he crashed into the centerfield wall, tearing his ACL for the second time in as many seasons.
Since then, Lewis has been working tirelessly to get back on the field and hopefully back onto the Twins 26-man roster.
Royce Lewis is only 23 years old. I forget this sometimes. He almost seems like a veteran. pic.twitter.com/OZZQUZkYvO
— Jeff (@MNTwinsZealot) April 26, 2023
Lewis Has Been Cleared To Run Bases
Prior to leaving the team’s spring training facility in Fort Meyers, Florida, Lewis was cleared by team trainer Nick Paparesta to partake in live batting practice sessions and run the bases. He was also added to the 60-day injured list, meaning he’s on the fast track to get back on a daily basis. Paparesta also says the hope was to have Lewis playing minor league games by Mid-April, while that hasn’t happened, his time to return to the field is days away.
Lewis spoke of a mix of anxiety and patience during his rehab process.
“I just want to be part of the team. Just cracking this roster — this roster is amazing. If you can crack this roster, it says a lot about you as a player and how good you are,” Lewis told The Athletic in a recent interview. This team is really good, and I think my main goal is just to make the team. I think it’d be a tough year for me if I’m stuck in Triple A all year or Double A or injured again. Those are my goals: stay healthy and make the team.”
It’s been about 10 months since Lewis tore his ACL, and the Twins are taking their time and making sure MLB Pipeline’s 39th-ranked prospect is fully healthy when he returns to field.
Royce Lewis is easing back into fielding drills at shortstop today pic.twitter.com/OpYLKKmqit
— Theodore Tollefson (@TheodoreTollef1) March 11, 2023
Team Had To Pump Brakes On Lewis Rehab
Lewis is young, strong and vibrant and has been able to avoid serious injury, which made him believe he could get back faster than doctors projected. While that’s the type of attitude you want to see, Twins brass stepped in and slowed him down a bit. During his interview in late March, Lewis also told The Athletic that he felt 90-100 percent healthy with the hope of getting to 120 percent.
But the aforementioned Paparesta, along with team doctors Keith Meister and Chris Camp, devised a plan that’s working to get Lewis back at full strength.
“It’s going to be a month-long progression of moving him up through his at-bats and into his time in the field and then we’ll look at a rehab assignment at that point in time,” Paparesta said. “All of that has been explained to Royce up front. Royce, I’m very excited that he’s excited and that he’s ready.”
The hope is that Lewis can return to the majors in the middle of the summer, and no matter how well he seems to be progressing, they’re sticking to that plan. Lewis says he understands that he has to approach his injury maturely, despite his desire to get back out there.
What Position Will Lewis Play When He Returns To Majors?
Lewis will continue to take most of his work at shortstop despite Correa being there, and as of now there’s been no plan to move him elsewhere. That could change, especially if the Twins who are currently (14-10) and in first place in the AL Central continue to gel into a strong playoff contender.
Lewis is only 23, with such a bright future ahead of him and this is just a minor setback, the nature of sports.