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Mariners reinstate Kyle Lewis from the IL ahead of this weekend’s series vs. the Astros

Justin Upton optioned, elects free agency

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros aren’t the only team to get their star outfielder/former Rookie of the Year outfielder back after the All-Star Break. Today the Mariners announced Kyle Lewis will be activated from the IL, where he’s been languishing since Mariners Public Enemy #7 José Urquidy hit him with a pitch that ricocheted off his shoulder, knocked off his helmet, and hit him in the head back on May 28. At the time, it didn’t seem like much—it wasn’t 95 straight to the noggin or anything—but it turns out that pitch rang our Kyle’s bell pretty dang loudly.

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners
same, kyle. same.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

KLew’s concussion was so bad he could barely get out of bed the first week he was so groggy, which, just...injury gods, could you just not? Kyle Lewis is a gentle soul. He goes to church and loves his mama and famously encourages people to drink more water. I’m going to need everyone in attendance at tonight’s game to focus on keeping a protective bubble of healing energy around KLew at all times.

It’s difficult to know what to expect out of Lewis, who’s had just 16 plate appearances this season between stints on the IL, but he certainly seemed to have his timing back with both the High-A Everett AquaSox and Triple-A Tacoma. In nine games split between Tacoma and Everett, Lewis batted .300, with five combined home runs and five walks. Three of those homers came as Lewis was pummeling the child pitchers of the Northwest League when the Mariners sent him to Everett, hitting home runs in three of the four games he played there, but Lewis consistently barreled the ball up in Tacoma, as well. Even when Lewis made outs in Tacoma, the contact was loud and the ball was usually hit on a line to the outfield. He did strike out a handful of times—twice in his first rehab game against the kid pitchers of the junior Canadians—but he seemed to be in swing mode deliberately, trying to get his timing down. He shouldn’t have too long of an on-ramp in getting back to MLB speed—provided the pitchers he’s facing don’t use him as target practice.

The corresponding move for activating Lewis is optioning Justin Upton back to Triple-A; he’ll elect free agency and look for another MLB opportunity, which he’ll probably find as the lower-performing teams start moving pieces at the trade deadline.