The Mariners are shutting down center fielder Kyle Lewis for the remainder of the season, the club informed reporters (including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times). Lewis recently suffered a bone bruise in his injured right knee.
It’s not a particularly surprising development, as the team revealed last week that his rehab had been halted because of soreness in his knee. Still, it’s surely a disappointing outcome for player and team alike. Lewis had been hoping to embark on a minor league rehab assignment and make it back this year. And with Seattle three games back of the Red Sox in the race for the American League’s final Wild Card spot, they could’ve used a late-season jolt from the reigning AL Rookie of the Year.
Given Lewis’ long history of trouble with the joint, the club’s caution is understandable though. The young outfielder tore his ACL not long after being drafted in 2016 and continued to be bothered by intermittent knee issues over the next couple seasons. He finally seemed to put them behind him by 2019, when he stayed healthy over a full season at Triple-A and earned his first big league promotion that September. He built off the promise he showed that year during the shortened 2020 campaign, when he hit .262/.364/.437 en route to the aforementioned Rookie of the Year selection.
Lewis’ knee troubles unfortunately cropped up again this year. He missed the first few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in the area. After returning to log a little more than a month’s worth of action, he suffered a meniscus tear in early June. Coupled with his recent setback, those injuries conspired to end his season after just 147 plate appearances.
Center field has been a problem area for the M’s since they lost Lewis. Top prospect Jarred Kelenic has gotten a lot of run there lately, but he’s struggled in his first taste of the majors. The 22-year-old is hitting just .158/.238/.281 over his first 281 MLB plate appearances. Even if Lewis had made it back, Seattle could’ve also bumped Kelenic to left field and displaced the struggling Jake Bauers/Dylan Moore pairing. Instead, they’re left to rely on those underperforming options as they hope to track down Boston or the Yankees over the season’s final four weeks.
Lewis will turn his attention to next Spring Training. The 26-year-old figures to again assume his role as the Mariners’ regular center fielder if healthy. Seattle still controls Lewis for four more seasons; he’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time during the 2022-23 offseason.