The long awaited return of Kyle Lewis to the Seattle Mariners lineup is near. The 2020 American League Rookie of The Year began his rehab assignment Tuesday in style – with a first-swing home run – as he looks to help them reach the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.
Lewis made his return to the diamond Tuesday night after missing a large majority of last season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He only played in 36 games before the injury – the same knee he had surgery on earlier in his career.
It was Lewis’s first plate appearance in Triple-A, since he skipped straight to the Majors from Double-A. He gave the people of Tacoma, Washington something to cheer about.
He watched a ball and a strike go by before hitting a home run on his first swing. It was the first home run for Lewis since he took the Oakland A’s deep May 31st of last season – also the last time Lewis played a Major League game.
When his second at-bat came around Lewis continued his RBI party, driving in a run on an up-the-middle single to give Tacoma a 3-0 lead.
His third hit was a late-game rally starter for the Rainers, beginning a comeback to win the game. He took the first pitch of his 6th inning at-bat up the middle to center field to cut into the lead. Tacoma would go on to win the game 13-11. Lewis finished 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs and three runs batted in.
Winning or losing Tuesday’s slugfest ultimately takes a backseat to the positive outlook and performance Lewis had at the plate. Now it is not a question of if Lewis will return, but when.
Last season was a special one for Seattle. Although they missed the playoffs, they had their most wins (90) since 2002 and 2003. Both those years the team reached the 93 win plateau. Winning a majority of those games without Lewis – the team’s best offensive player in 2020 – was an impressive feat.
Lewis was named the unanimous 2020 American League Rookie of The Year after posting a .264 batting average, .801 OPS, 11 home runs, five steals and 28 RBI during the COVID-shortened season.
He did get off to a slow start last season, only batting .161 during the month of April. It seemed he had just taken a turn for the better with a .273 average, three home runs and nine RBI May but his injury would come shortly after.
Lewis entered the league with one of the most accomplished college baseball resumes in the sport. He was named the Southern Conference Baseball Player of The Year as well as co-winner of the Gregg Olson Award for College Baseball’s best breakout player in his sophomore year.
His junior year, he was named an All-American by four major baseball writing associations, in addition to receiving the Golden Spikes award for the best college baseball player. He also won his second Southern Conference Player of The Year award and was voted American Baseball Coaches Division 1 National Player of the Year – all en route to getting drafted by the Mariners 11th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft.
There is an excess of talent in the Mariners organization, from the 26 on the Major League roster to players coming out of baseball’s current top farm system. But Lewis may be their best offensive player when healthy and is coming for someone’s locker in the near future.
Lewis will join J.P. Crawford, who has been mashing at the plate this season, showing off his new found power swing. Crawford is currently sixth in the league in on base percentage and ninth in the league in OPS.
There’s no timetable for Lewis’ return to the Major League lineup, but those scary hours are surely on the horizon sooner rather than later.
Lewis suffered a deep bone bruise in his right knee after running into a wall during spring training. Just as he was starting to heat up at the plate, the injury bug struck.
But hey, you control what you can control. And for Lewis, that meant working on getting that knee back to 100% so he could return to his team.
Our MLB bro made his 2021 debut on April 20 against the LA Dodgers and after missing the team’s first 17 games, the webmaster was grateful to be back on the field.
“It’s very special,” Lewis said in an article from The Seattle Times. “I never take it for granted being able to play. And so anytime I’m able to run out there with the uniform on, it’s always special, especially after being out for a little bit. Definitely a lot of energy, a lot of adrenaline going. I was happy with it, and just excited to get out there.”
His first hit of the season came against the Boston Red Sox on April 23. Lewis was making his third appearance on the season and he saw the ball well that game.
His first homer came three days later.
Last years American League Rookie of the year hits his first home run of the season. Kyle Lewis missed time to began the season after having one of the best rookie years in all of baseball. #MLBBro#SeaUsRisehttps://t.co/8YrPNHoZmn
Let’s be real here, it’s not easy standing in that batter’s box and trying to hit off a major league pitcher after missing extended time.
You have to get your timing down and make sure you’re seeing the ball well. For Lewis, he’s still making strides to get to where he was last year when he led the Mariners in home runs (11) and OPS (.800).
On Sunday night, in a loss to the Texas Rangers, he collected another two hits and raised his batting average to .258.
Recently, the Mariners have been pleased with Lewis’ performance at the plate.
There was a stretch where he recorded a hit in six straight games and he’s currently on a three-game hitting streak.
FINAL: Mariners score 4 in the 8th to defeat Baltimore, 5-2.
Kyle Lewis drives in the eventual game winner with a 3-run HR in the 8th.
The Mariners have kept the ship afloat without him, but with Kyle Lewis back from a deep knee bruise that kept him off the field for the first 17 games of the season, they look to take the American League West crown and run with it.
The city of Seattle is one of the best baseball towns in America. Its fans are no different than the 12’s who spend falls at Seahawks games or the ones who inhabited the SuperSonics arena years ago.
They are being treated to an excellent brand of baseball on the field. Great pitching, great hitting and all across the diamond, spectacular plays are made on a daily basis. And it’s being done by some of the best young talent in baseball.
On Tuesday, the best apple out of that bunch made his 2021 debut. Lewis saw his name in the lineup for the first time in 2021, as he went 0-3 with a walk, in a 1-0 loss to the Dodgers.
The 25-year-old Black Knight hopes to pick up where he left off in 2020 when he became the second rookie in Major League history to lead a team in batting, home runs, run scored, and walks, joining Mark McGwire who did it in 1987 with the Oakland Athletics. He also was tied for the rookie lead in home runs while leading in walks and runs during the 60-game season.
Lewis is no stranger to hardware as he’s filled his trophy case in the last half-decade, en route to becoming a premier center fielder in the game. He won Baseball America’s 2016 College Player of the Year as well as the 2016 Golden Spikes Award to go along with the Southern Conference Player of the Year before being drafted by Seattle in 2016.
He hit the ground running once he arrived in the league. In his debut on September 10th of 2019, Lewis cranked a home run off 2020 Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. He also homered in the next two games, joining Trevor Story as the only players to hit home runs in the first three games of their career.
While Lewis was on the Injured list, the Mariners called up outfielder Taylor Trammell a bit earlier than expected. The rookie is adjusting to MLB pitching and will get to roam the grass at T Mobile Park, alongside Lewis for years to come.
On Monday night he had his first career game-winning, extra-base hit in a 4-3 victory over the World Series champion Dodgers.
The Mariners’ 11 wins have them currently tied with the Red Sox for first place in the American League. They are one of the early surprises as they sit in first place in the AL West without the services of their best player.
As Lewis gets reacclimated to the game, a strong sophomore season can provide the final push the Mariners need to go from pretenders to contenders.