What Lewis (oblique strain) on the IL means for Twins

July 3rd, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- said the oblique strain felt like someone thrust a knife into his back -- and it only got worse and worse as he ran down the line to first base. Still, he wanted to stay in the game, and given how the last two years have gone, it’s tough to blame him.

But, all the same, it’s out of Lewis’ hands that he’ll now have to endure another extended absence from the field, with a preliminary reading of Monday’s MRI indicating that Lewis could need to miss around six weeks with a Grade 2 left oblique strain that sent him to the injured list following his exit due to the injury sustained during his swing on a third-inning groundout during Saturday’s game in Baltimore.

It’s a particularly tough blow for both the player and the team. As for the latter, Lewis was one of the few bright spots on a mightily struggling Minnesota offense, as the organization’s longtime No. 1 prospect -- though he dropped to No. 2 this year -- led the team in average (.326), slugging percentage (.474) and RBIs (15) since he was reinstated from the injured list on May 29.

And that brings to mind why this is a particularly tough development for Lewis himself given the circumstances: He has already missed the vast majority of the last two seasons after tearing the ACL in his right knee, then re-tearing it, necessitating two surgeries in two years -- and two extended recoveries. In between the injuries, he’d been nothing but successful in the Majors.

“Knock on wood, this isn’t a year, [and] that definitely makes it a lot easier to deal with,” Lewis said. “Every other time I was on the IL, it was a whole year and I had no control over how I could come back or not. So, it makes it a lot easier.”

The Twins’ offense needs consistent answers now, but they’re now looking to be without one of their most consistent hitters -- who took it upon himself to focus more on making contact instead of waiting to drive a pitcher’s mistake -- until at least mid-August, the latest in a series of difficult blows for the onetime No. 1 overall Draft selection, who had emerged as the team’s everyday third baseman at the end of all of his ACL struggles.

“It’s just part of the game, so for me, to see any of my teammates get hurt, let alone myself, yeah, it’s disappointing,” Lewis said. “I just want people to play the game that they love and enjoy their time doing it.”