While he didn’t get to play in games during spring training because of an oblique injury, he said that he learned a ton about the game from players in the locker room as well as some of the legends that are also in spring training.
Lewis noted, “Everyone really appreciated me asking questions, and I had guys over here like Nelson (Cruz) and Rod Carew, just everyone helping me out. Schoopy (Jonathan Schoop), CJ (Cron),, they all just talked to me and I was very appreciative of it.”
Rod Carew was in his ear frequently, and Lewis took in every bit of information. For instance, when asked what he learned from talking with Tony Oliva and Rod Carew, Lewis said, “That if I bunt, I’ll raise my batting average about 40 points so I might bunt a little bit more this year.”
Yes, they talked about more than just bunting. He continued, “But just a lot about hitting and little things about the game. I sat next to him for three straight games, and basically every game, but basically three straight games of him in my ear about every pitch. I wasn’t even looking at the game like that. I was looking at it like just a normal fun game. There’s a lot more to it.”
It sounds as if Lewis is very near a return to the field. An oblique injury cost him most of spring training, in terms of games. Before he had learned about being re-assigned, I had asked him if he was disappointed about not being able to play in the games. Obviously he wanted to play and be healthy, but he said he wasn’t disappointed at all. He knew his job was to get himself ready for the 140 game season and even though he couldn't play, he loved the opportunity and took advantage of everything that big league camp has to offer.
His manager was also impressed with Lewis during spring training. “Royce could not have made his camp any better than it was. Obviously we all wish and especially Royce wishes that he was out there playing and running around and showing us all what he could do but we know the injury happened and he did not pout, he did not waste a day here. He got all of his work done. He got a chance to spend time with a lot of very important and helpful people. He used this camp to learn and grow and I think he accomplished that and then some.”
Lewis will be at minor league camp on Monday. On Monday and Tuesday, the minor leaguers will have their morning workouts. In the afternoon, the “Rochester” roster will scrimmage the “Pensacola” roster. Also the “Ft. Myers” roster will scrimmage the “Cedar Rapids” roster. On Wednesday, the teams will start playing their schedule against other organizations. That is when they are targeting Lewis getting into a game.
He is feeling “good. I think we just wanted to take care of it just because it was spring training. It was something mild. We just wanted to make sure it was not going to linger on throughout the whole season and create a disaster for me.”
Along with staying healthy, Lewis doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. When asked about his goals for the upcoming season, he said, “I think every player thinks about where they’re going to play and stuff, but honestly it’s not in my hands. All I can control is my controllables and my main goal this year is to create a routine off the field that makes me prepare well for on the field each and every day so I can be healthy and not deal with an oblique or a hamstring or anything crazy, so I can play at my highest level.”
NOTES FROM ACROSS THE PARKING LOT
I was able to spend about two hours observing at minor league spring training camp before the Twins-Blue Jays game on Monday afternoon. Here are a few notes.
- The Twins signed former MLB catcher Willin Rosario to a minor league contract. He hasn’t played in affiliated ball since 2015. He has played in both Korea and Japan. However, he has played very little behind the plate. On Sunday at spring training, he spent the day in catcher’s gear and catching bullpens when he wasn’t hitting.
- Michael Davis was the Twins 24th round draft pick in 2018 out of Texas Tech where he had played on two College World Series competing teams. He hit ten home runs after the draft last year (9 in Cedar Rapids) while playing shortstop most games. This spring, he is also catching. In a brief conversation with him on Sunday afternoon, he noted that he’s going to work as a super-utility player this spring and into this season. He will catch, but he will presumably continue to play around the infield as well.
- The weather in Ft. Myers on Sunday was brutal. Not Minnesota brutal. Trust me, I am happy to be away from the snow and seeing green grass. But it was 84 degrees and very humid. Many of the minor leaguers pointed out how humid it was. However, in a brief conversation with outfielder Aaron Whitefield, he pointed out that when he left Australia last month, it was 120 degrees there. Yikes!
- On Monday, Brusdar Graterol threw a bullpen. He tells me that he will be pitching in a minor league.
- Griffin Jax and Regi Grace were working the bullpen next to each other. I talked to Grace later in the morning, and he said that he has been at the academy since January 7th already. The academy has certainly allowed for players to come in and get work in when they are from areas of the country that are cold or a community that just doesn’t have the facilities needed.
- While the Twins played the Tigers on Monday afternoon, the minor leaguers were participating in their first scrimmage of the year. After four days of workouts, the “Rochester” roster played the “Pensacola” roster, and the “Miracle” roster took on the “Kernels” roster. I will be in attendance on Tuesday when they scrimmage again. On Wednesday, the Rochester and Pensacola rosters will travel to Port Charlotte to take on the AAA and AA affiliates of the Rays.
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