Devastating news can't bring Royce down

June 11th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Do-Hyoung Park’s Twins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Talking to on Friday, you’d never know that he’d just received the news that he would miss the final four months of the 2022 campaign after an MRI exam revealed that his surgically repaired right ACL had torn once again.

He was grinning from ear to ear, cracking jokes as he talked about how he knew he was going to make a “really cool play” on the catch in center field that ultimately ended his season and cost him another 12 months. He was moving back and forth, wildly gesticulating as he acted out the scene.

He talked about how watching the Twins hit back-to-back-to-back homers off Gerrit Cole from the dugout rail on Thursday made for the “coolest 10 minutes of [his] life” -- even knowing of his injury.

Somehow, even after the devastating diagnosis, he was still the same old Royce.

“I think he’s kind of putting the positive energy off on us [rather] than kind of us making him feel better,” Byron Buxton said. “But we know it's tough for him. Him being here is keeping his mind off things and allowing him to do what he wants to do, which is learn.”

Even at 23, he’s so steady with his mentality, bringing all of that positivity that fuels his teammates and lifts the atmosphere in the clubhouse every day. That’s a reason why, after Lewis was surprisingly optioned back to Triple-A in mid-May, the clubhouse was said to be as quiet and somber as it had been all year.

Lewis is still unsure if he’ll do his post-surgery rehab at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers, Fla., or with his teammates in the Twin Cities. But in the immediate aftermath of the procedure, he’s expecting to be back in Minnesota, mostly immobilized while on crutches. That’s probably what will be best for both Lewis and his teammates.

“That broke my heart, really,” said Trevor Larnach, who developed a close friendship with Lewis as they came up through the Minors together. “That dude, he changes the atmosphere on the ball field and the dugout, off the field. Even though he's hurt, he's still doing that. He's still upbeat. He's still positive. I think he knows the whole process. Don't be surprised if he comes back even stronger than before.”

He’s the kind of guy who brought necklaces made by his mother, Cindy, for his teammates, even thinking to provide one for Larnach’s girlfriend, too. The toothy grin rarely leaves his face. That’s how he’s always been.

“I can't name a day I've ever seen this man not smile,” Buxton said. “For me, the positive energy he brings definitely doesn't go unnoticed.”

Somehow, that included Friday -- but with Lewis involved, of course it did. There he was, sitting at the table in the back, eating dessert while holding court with Buxton. Bringing joy -- like he always does.