SEATTLE -- Kyle Lewis is seeking a second opinion on the right meniscus tear that sent him to the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, Mariners manager Scott Servais announced ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against Oakland.
Servais anticipates that the reigning American League Rookie of the Year will make a decision on his rehab course in the next day or so, with surgery an option.
“Kyle is really down, he's disappointed,” Servais said. “He was playing so well, and like any player having to deal with that kind of issue, and just as he was getting it going, it becomes very frustrating.”
Outfielder Taylor Trammell, who had been tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A Tacoma, was recalled to take Lewis’ roster spot on Tuesday, and he homered as part of a 1-for-4 night. Additionally, Marco Gonzales was activated from the 10-day IL and started against Oakland, throwing four impressive innings. Right-hander Robert Dugger was optioned to Tacoma in a corresponding move.
Lewis has a history of injuries in that knee as recently as this year's Spring Training, when he suffered a deep bone bruise toward the end of camp that caused him to miss the first 17 games of the regular season. He also tore his ACL and medial and lateral meniscus in his right knee in a home-plate collision weeks after he was selected with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2016 Draft.
“I do know it was different than what he had in Spring Training,” Servais said. “There's always levels of concern when guys have knee issues or shoulder issues, things like that. Obviously, he's battled back from pretty serious injury right when he got his professional career started -- a credit to him. And I think he's figured out a routine that works for him, and something else pops up. Some things you just can't control. It's crazy to worry about them or fret over them. You just have to keep moving forward.”
Lewis suffered the injury during the eighth inning of Monday’s 6-5 win over Oakland, when he landed awkwardly while making an attempted catch on a fly ball that wound up going over his head for a double. Lewis landed upright, with most of his weight pushing down on his left foot, before pausing and firing a throw back into second base once the run had scored.
The center fielder remained in the game for the final out of that frame, then he was replaced when the club returned to the field in the top of the ninth by Jarred Kelenic, who moved over from left -- and who figures to be the club’s long-term fill-in until Lewis recovers. Kelenic was brought up as a center fielder and it is his natural position. He didn’t start playing left regularly until 2019, when the Mariners began preparing him to play there and form a tandem with Lewis.
That opens a long-term door for Trammell and Jake Fraley in left field. Trammell, MLB Pipeline’s No. 83 overall prospect, had been red-hot with Tacoma, going 28-for-73 with six homers, 19 RBIs and a 1.139 OPS in 17 games. This epic showing came on the heels of a tough first five weeks in the big leagues, when he hit .157/.255/.337 with a 43.2 percent strikeout rate, the highest in the Majors (min. 90 plate appearances).
Fraley was activated from the IL on Sunday and went 2-for-3 with two walks and a hustle double, in which he put the health of his recovered left hamstring strain on display. He was 1-for-10 in five games before his injury, but he had a .526 on-base percentage thanks to eight walks and one HBP. For his career, which spans just 94 plate appearances over 25 games, Fraley is a .165/.298/.253 hitter.
The timing is perhaps the most unfortunate aspect here. Lewis hit .273/.368/.394 over 28 games in May for a 124 wRC+ (league average is 100), exhibiting far more consistency after a tough final month in 2020 and a slow start to ’21. And Lewis’ efforts helped the Mariners to win five in a row and seven of their past eight.
“The sad thing is that he was on a great routine,” Servais said. “He was feeling really good. I know just talking to him daily. It's the best his legs had felt underneath him. We certainly saw what he was doing at the plate, and the bat was really heating up, so we're going to miss him.”