As Kyle Lewis returns to the Mariners lineup after almost two months on the injured list, he does so with a request from manager Scott Servais — to stop in and see him after every game and let Servais know how he feels.
That way, Servais said, “as I’m putting the lineup together for the next day, I know what I’m dealing with, how he’s feeling and not just getting the reports from the training staff — just deal with the player directly. I think that’s what the plan is. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Lewis went on the seven-day IL on May 29 because of a concussion after playing in four games following his season debut. Lewis was injured May 28 when hit by a pitch thrown by Houston’s Jose Urquidy — the same pitcher he was set to face in his return Friday night after he was reinstated to the lineup Friday following a nine-game rehab stint in Everett and Tacoma. He was installed in right field for the opener of a three-game series against Houston. Veteran Justin Upton was optioned, and elected free agency, to open the roster spot for Lewis.
Servais said the communication plan with Lewis is similar to how the team handled Mitch Haniger last year, which Servais said, “I thought we did a really nice job with.”
And for now, that also means Servais has no specific plan on how much Lewis will play or where other than saying the hope is he will play in the outfield “two or three times a week” with some designated hitting starts thrown in for good measure.
“He won’t play every day,” Servais said. “I think the plan is to continue to build him up, just endurance wise and whatnot. He’s in right field tonight — with the day game tomorrow, probably won’t see him there tomorrow.”
Lewis has played just 40 games since winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2020, held to 36 games last year with a knee injury and suffering a concussion this year after playing four games.
“We’re happy to have him back, anxious to see him out there,” Servais said. “Everybody knows what kind of talent Kyle is. He lengthens our lineup.”
Indeed, adding a bat as capable of Lewis to the seventh spot in the lineup — where he initially was Friday before moving up to sixth when Julio Rodriguez was scratched — is the kind of move that only heightens the excitement surrounding a team that entered the day riding a 14-game winning streak.
Interestingly, Servais heaped praise on the player Lewis replaced on the roster — Upton — as playing a vital role in the team’s turnaround the last month even though he hit just .125 in 17 games with one home run. Upton’s first game with the Mariners was June 17, at which point they were seven games under .500. He leaves with the Mariners nine over.
And the one home run was a big one — a solo shot off Oakland reliever A.J. Puk in the eighth inning that gave the Mariners the tying run in a 2-1 win.
“I personally called Justin Upton last night,” Servais said. “Justin Upton added a lot to our team that did not show up in the box score or the stat line.”
No timetable for Haniger
Haniger, out since April 30 with a high ankle sprain, was set to begin a rehab assignment in Everett on Friday night. While general manager Jerry Dipoto said on his radio show on Seattle Sports 710 AM that Haniger could be back in two or three weeks, Servais said there is “no timetable” for his return.
“Just have to wait to see how he feels, how he responds,” Servais said. “It’s been a long time since Mitch Haniger has played in a game. I saw him in here today; he’s excited to get out and play again.”
Mariners mourn death of Isaki
The Mariners announced that former (1992-99) executive Paul Isaki, who played a key role in keeping the team in Seattle in the ‘90s, has died at the age of 78.
The Mariners called Isaki “one of the most important figures’’ in the team’s history, crediting him for helping lead the efforts of the new ownership group in 1992 to keep the team in town, citing his role negotiating the first regional sports network agreement, expanding the fan base through regionalization and playing “a vital role with local governments and the business community in the development and construction of the new ballpark in 1999.’’
George Kirby to start Tuesday
Rookie pitcher George Kirby, who was optioned to Tacoma on July 9 in a move designed to control his innings, will return to the fifth spot in the rotation now that the All-Star break is complete, Servais said. That puts him in line to start Tuesday against Texas.
Kirby gave up five hits and four runs in two innings of a start for Tacoma on July 16, throwing 48 pitches.
But if Servais had any concerns about that stat line he didn’t show it saying simply “he got his work in.”