As he started to walk from the on-deck circle toward the plate, even before his name was announced by public address announcer Tom Hutyler, a large portion of knowing fans began to stand and clap for Kyle Lewis.

When his name boomed over the T-Mobile Park sound system and his walk-up music played in the bottom of the third inning on Tuesday night, nearly all of 14,797 in attendance serenaded him with applause, understanding all that he’d been through to make his return to the Mariners lineup.

“Really, really special,” Lewis said of the moment after the Mariners’ 7-5 loss to the A’s. “I had just kind of a little moment of reflection. Just being out for so long to get that kind of reception, it definitely made me feel special.”

Facing the A’s and starter James Kaprielian, the team and pitcher he faced in the last MLB game he played in on May 31, 2021, at T-Mobile, Lewis grounded out to third base.

An inning later, Lewis singled through the left side for his first hit of 2022. He followed that up with a single through the right side in his next at-bat.

But the competitor in Lewis was miffed that he couldn’t deliver a hit in the eighth inning with J.P. Crawford on first base and the Mariners trailing by two runs. He popped out to first base in his final plate appearance of the game.


“My swing felt good, it felt like I wanted it to,” he said. “But I really wanted that one later in the game just to try to help us get the win, but it’s still good to be back.”

He was back in the lineup as the designated hitter for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale vs. the A’s. The Mariners are going to check with him each day on his availability and how his surgically repaired right knee is feeling. It’s unlikely he will go four and five days in a row. The Mariners want to be proactive with his rest despite needing his power presence in the lineup that is missing Mitch Haniger.

“I talked to him after the game last night and he felt like it was good to go,” Servais said pregame. “He’s moving around OK this morning, so he’ll be back out there and hopefully keep swinging it. I thought he looked really good last night. It’s a good way to start, great to have him back in our lineup, hopefully he can do even bigger things today.”

Servais was impressed that Lewis was able to come out after such a long layoff and have success.

“It’s hard to walk out and perform like that right out of the chute,” Servais said. “He did last night. He looked very comfortable. His timing was really good. That’s the thing you’re most worried about when players show up again. I know he’s been playing in Triple-A, but sometimes it gets a little bit different. The velocity picks up here and the lights get a little brighter.”

But Lewis’ even-keeled personality and his calm presence on the field allow him to be successful in these situations.


“Kyle’s never had a problem when the lights are turned on,” Servais said. “He kind of enjoys that. I think his swing was great. It’s short. It’s compact. It’s easy. He’s not forcing anything. He’s in a good spot.”

New look lineup

For the second straight game, Jesse Winker was slotted into the leadoff spot for the Mariners. The lefty swinging outfielder has failed to match his All-Star production with Cincinnati in 2021. Coming into Tuesday, Winker had a .213/.307/.297 slash line with seven doubles, two homers, 16 RBI, 22 walks and 24 strikeouts in 179 plate appearances — not exactly the sort of numbers to inspire a move to a spot in the batting order that generates an extra plate per game on the average.

“Obviously, changing the lineup a little bit,” Servais said before Tuesday’s game. “It’s just to give you guys something to talk about. That was the main reason behind it. So y’all have something to talk about for a little bit. We’ll mix it up a little bit. Who knows what’ll happen? We’ll give it a shot.”

Winker went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a hard lineout to right field on Tuesday and had a pair of walks on Wednesday.

A glance at Winker’s career numbers offered some reasoning for Seattle’s logic. In his career with the Reds, he was slotted into the leadoff spot more than any other position in the batting order. In 116 games (506 plate appearances), he has a .294/.378/.506 slash line with 22 doubles, three triples, 22 homers, 55 RBI, 53 walks and 88 strikeouts. In 2021, he batted in the leadoff spot 27 times (124 plate appearances), posting a .339/.403/.670 slash line with five doubles, a triple, 10 homers, 20 RBI, 11 walks and 25 strikeouts.

“He’s done it before, actually quite a bit in his career,” Servais said. “It’s something I looked at a few weeks ago. But with the timing of it and where we were at, I think sometimes you do those things after a lot of losses and everybody looks at it one way, but if you do it after a win, it’s ‘ah, we’ll try something else.’ So who knows if it’ll work or not, but he’s comfortable doing it. He’s done it a good chunk of his career. So hopefully it brings good results.”