The Mariners have yet to send out an official medical statement, perhaps waiting for final details and clearance from Kyle Lewis and his representatives. But Friday afternoon, Seattle manager Scott Servais told radio broadcaster Rick Rizzs during their daily pregame interview that the Mariners’ starting center fielder underwent “minor” surgery to repair a tear in his right meniscus Wednesday. Respected orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Cedars Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles performed the surgery.
“I texted with him,” Servais said of Lewis. “He feels really good. He had the surgery done out in L.A. He’ll stay out there a few days to start his rehab out there before he transitions back to Seattle and we get him up and going. But it’s all positive, all thumbs up there. Again, no timetable when Kyle is going to be ready to go back on the field, but he’s happy with where it’s at, knowing that there has been some clarity and now he just needs to rehab it to get out there.”
Servais didn’t mentioned it earlier in his normal pregame media session, though he wasn’t asked. In past days, he said the team was waiting to hear from Lewis and the second opinion he received on his injured knee.
Surgery to clean up the tear in the meniscus always seemed as the most likely option, given the injury history with that right knee, which includes a massive reconstruction in 2016 after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial and lateral meniscus and a cleanup of some issues in 2017. Lewis also dealt with a bone bruise on the knee in spring training that kept him on the injured list to start the season.
A week ago, general manager Jerry Dipoto said on his weekly radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle that he expected Lewis to miss significant time due to the injury, which he suffered May 31 while trying to make a leaping catch in the outfield.
“My guess is that it is going to result this time in a bit of a prolonged absence,” Dipoto said. “I am hopeful that we’ll see him again this year on the field, but I don’t think it’s going to be quick. So we’re going to take our time, identify how we can help.”
The Mariners made a few roster moves before the game Friday, activating Justin Dunn from the 10-day injured list to start later that night. Right-hander Kendall Graveman also was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list.
To make room, right-handed reliever Keynan Middleton was optioned to Tacoma while fellow right-hander Yacksel Rios was designated for assignment.
Graveman, the Mariners’ best reliever this season, has been on the injured list since May 23, including having to quarantine for 10 days in San Diego. He made one rehab appearances with Class AAA Tacoma on Tuesday, pitching one inning. He hasn’t pitched in a MLB game since May 16.
Middleton has appeared in 19 games out of the bullpen this season, notching four saves and posting a 4.42 ERA.
“The last couple of outings have been difficult for him,” Servais said. “He’s going to be back here at some point. He did have an option left. He’s going to go to Tacoma. I’m sure he’ll throw the ball well and he’ll be back soon.”
Willie Ballgame returns to ASU
The Arizona State Sun Devils turned to one of their own to fix their lagging baseball program. Friday, the school announced Willie Bloomquist will take over as the new head coach, replacing Tracy Smith, who was fired a few days ago.
“It has been surreal,” the former Mariner from Port Orchard said at his news conference. “It has been a dream come true. I could not think of any other place in the country that I would go. This is where I would love to be the rest of my life. I am a Sun Devil, man. This is the best tradition, the best place that I want to be.”
He has spent the past five seasons working for the Diamondbacks as a special assistant to the president and CEO Derrick Hall. He’s also been a member of the board at USA Baseball since 2016.
He had a brilliant career at ASU, playing for three seasons (1997-99) and earning 1999 Pac-10 Player of the Year honors as a junior. In 1998, he tied a College World Series single-game record with five hits while leading a team that competed for the national title. Bloomquist was an All-American in both the 1998 and 1999 campaigns.
To this day, Bloomquist still holds the fourth-highest career batting average at the school (. 394) while he remains fifth in ASU history in runs (216), fourth in triples (22) and fourth in stolen bases (72).
Bloomquist, a standout at South Kitsap High School, was drafted twice by the Mariners. He was selected in the eighth round of the 1996 draft out of high school and in the third round of the 1999 draft. He made his MLB debut Sept. 1, 2002.
In two separate stints with the Mariners in his 14-year career, Bloomquist, a versatility utility player, played in 622 games, amassing 1,600 plate appearances and posting a .259/.314/.318 slash line.