Late last week a familiar face made his return to batting practice at T Mobile Park. 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis laced up the spikes for yet another important step in his rehab process. Lewis is recovering from a knee injury that has kept him out of action since May 31. The Mariners don’t expect Lewis back till September, but what should his role be when he returns?
Kyle Lewis promptly returned to crushing baseballs at T Mobile park during his batting practice rounds. The swing looks polished as ever, and it would be great to get a healthy Lewis back for a push towards the playoffs. However, the right knee is the same one he injured this year in Spring Training, keeping him out of the beginning of the 2021 season. It is also the knee that required major surgery in 2018.
Kyle Lewis, the 2020 A.L Rookie of the Year is expected to make his return in early September.
Lewis would be a huge boost to the ball club if healthy, but there is no reason to push him. The emergence of Jake Fraley and Jarred Kelenic, along with the continued health of Mitch Haniger are all reasons to east Lewis back into a role on the team. Health has always been an issue for the former first-round pick, and it is important to keep him healthy and back at full strength.
The first option for the Mariners to preserve Lewis is to use him as the primary DH for the rest of the year. Although taking away at bats from guys like Luis Torrens and Jake Bauers (gasp!), Lewis could rejoin the team with his thunderous right-handed bat while protecting him from wear and tear in the outfield. In limited action in 2021, Lewis has been an above-average bat from the right side, slashing .246/.333./.726 with a 105 WRC+ according to Baseball Reference. This would be a huge upgrade from many of the current right-handed bats the Mariners employ.
Another serious option would be to restrict him to manning a corner spot for the rest of the season. Sliding him in Right or Left Field a few times a week, mixing in days at DH seems like the most likely option. Him and Haniger giving each other spells in the outfield seems like a perfect way to ease Kyle back into game action while getting him valuable ABs to get ready for 2022.
We all desperately would like to see this stroke back in action. The kid is electric, and the team is much better with him on it. However, the Mariners should take the necessary steps to preserve his health, while returning him to game action. I for one would like to see many more plays like this one. GO MARINERS!