The Mariners reinstated Kyle Lewis from the injured list. He’s in the starting lineup tonight as the designated hitter, batting seventh against the A starter. James Kaprielian. Seattle also announced the release of the veteran outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and downright right-handed Adrian Sampson at Triple-A Tacoma.
This will be Lewis’ first major league appearance since May 31. The former first-round pick suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee at the time. It was the latest in a string of knee injuries for Lewis, who also tore his ACL as a minor leaguer and suffered a bone bruise to the joint during spring training. Lewis was out for a few months and his end-of-season rehabilitation attempt was scrapped after suffering another bone bruise in September.
With that injury history in mind, the Mariners have proceeded with extreme caution with Lewis this spring. The club announced he would be unavailable for the start of the season in March, and he continued to make slow progress in the first weeks of the season. He went to rehab in early May and his 20-day window ended yesterday. He’s now back and hopes to get closer to .262/.364/.437 showing he’s managed in 2020 to win the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Seattle has gotten very little from its corner fielders so far, a big reason for the team’s disappointing 18-25 start. Still, they aren’t about to put the 26-year-old Lewis back in a day-to-day role on the grass. Manager Scott Servais told reporters (including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times), the plan is to use Lewis exclusively as a DH for now, as they bring him back to action. They will also likely mingle with a heavy dose of days off, leaving the outfield to jesse winker, Julio Rodriguez and Taylor Trammel as the club awaits the arrival of the new Justin Upton.
Souza briefly considered this mix, heading to the majors when the Ms opted Jarred Kelenic. The veteran had earned the call with a monster .267/.417/.533 showing in 96 plate appearances at Tacoma, but Seattle didn’t give him much of a leash at the big league level. After Souza had just three hits (all in singles) and eight hits in his first six games, the Ms picked him up for assignment over the weekend. Assuming he accepts the release waivers, the 33-year-old will hit free agency and likely look for another minor league opportunity elsewhere.
Sampson has every right to do the same, having already been adamant in his career. However, the team did not say if he was voted free agency, and Sampson has roots in the Pacific Northwest as a Washington native.
Seattle picked up the 30-year-old right from the Cubs earlier this month, but he was slated for assignment before making an appearance. Sampson has pitched 11 MLB games with Chicago over the past two seasons, throwing 36 1/3 innings ERA 2.72. His modest 18.7% strikeout rate did not support that excellent mark of run prevention, however, and he has now passed unclaimed waivers.