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Royce Lewis is Grateful to Be Playing Again Everyday After Missing Two Seasons


Twins Daily Contributor

Twins Daily writer Theo Tollefson went out to CHS Field this weekend to sit down and talk with Twins top prospect Royce Lewis as Lewis reflected on playing consistently for the first time in two years, mentorship from Carlos Correa, and making the most of every day at the ballpark. 

 

After winning a game with the St. Paul Saints against the Iowa Cubs on Thursday evening (May 5), Royce Lewis drove back to his apartment to unwind like he usually does after a day at the ballpark; do laundry and play Call of Duty with his teammates. 

There was only one difference that night compared to others after a ball game. His manager Toby Gardenhire called him and Lewis presumed the call was about volunteer work he was scheduled to do with the team during the Twins Week of Service. Instead, it was something else entirely, the call every baseball player dreams of receiving one day. 

“Toby called, and he always calls me Lewis, and asked what was going on. I said I was playing games. I asked, ‘Do I have to come in early for some volunteer work because we have that Charity Week?’ He started laughing. Then I heard a bunch of other people in the background, and I thought that was kind of weird. He said, ‘All the coaches are here with me.’ Because I asked, ‘Are you guys trying to make fun of me or something?’ Did I mess up? And then he's like, ‘Well, no, if you stop talking, I have some good news for you. He told me that I was getting the call to the Big Leagues and I'd be a Big Leaguer tomorrow. I was really excited and definitely shocked and couldn't have enjoyed it any more.”

The following day Lewis made his Major League debut against the Oakland Athletics at Target Field for the Minnesota Twins. Lewis went 1-for-4 in his debut and provided a few flashy plays at shortstop for the 17,509 fans in attendance. 

2022 has been a special season for Lewis. After missing two full professional seasons due to no minor-league season in 2020 and 2021 due to a torn ACL. Lewis has played in a total of 45 games so far this season between the Saints and Twins and has led the Saints offense in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and stolen bases in his 34 games played with St. Paul.

Lewis is grateful for the opportunity to play every day after missing the last two seasons, “It feels good. I just missed the game. So anything I can do to just be out here each and every day, I'm pretty positive about everything. I remember going  0-for-5 with four strikeouts the other day, and I was very happy with it because we won so it didn't matter. And even if we lost, I would be okay because I knew that the next day, I'd actually have an opportunity, instead of sitting on the couch and not being able to play the game I love.”

As many Twins fans know, Lewis made the most of his time with the Twins. In the 11 games he played with the big-league club, he posted a .308/.325/.564 (889) slash line. After the second game of the Twins road series against the Oakland Athletics, a game in which he hit a double and a home run, Lewis was optioned to Triple-A. The Twins' front office wanted to make sure that he played every day but also had the opportunity to play multiple positions so that he could get back to the big leagues soon even with a healthy Carlos Correa. 

For Lewis, the frustration that Twins fans have had with him back at Triple-A is not as big a deal for him. Lewis is making the most of playing multiple positions with the Saints as it is the first time he has had the chance to do that since his time in the Arizona Fall League in late 2019.

“I like all of them, but I think I like third and center more than left. Third base I played for three years in high school, that was like my first position and that move is actually very easy for me. It's the same side of the infield so the ground balls are very similar and it's usually just more topspin over at third base. That's the only difference over there to me.”

The biggest adjustment for Lewis at the new outfield positions is not necessarily fielding in the outfield, but the planning it takes to backup other positions on any given play. 

“I think the toughest part about these positions is not necessarily the actual playing, but the backups. I'm in centerfield. I have to back up second base if there's a throw from the catcher. Always thinking where do I go? Where do I go off the throws from third base? What do I back up on that play? Do I go back up second on the next play throw or is that the left fielder’s job. So the little things like that take adjusting to.”

Whenever Lewis gets the return to the majors, he is ready to play wherever he is needed because for him, it’s all about being a part of the Major League experience more than anything else. 

“If I had an opportunity to play in the big leagues again tomorrow, wherever I am needed to play, if I needed to pinch-hit, even be a bat boy or water kid, I would do it because it doesn't matter where I am.”

While Lewis spent his two weeks with the Twins, he made the most of the mentorship he could receive from one of the best shortstops in Major League Baseball; Carlos Correa. Even in such a short time together, Correa made a large impact on the Twins' top prospect. “It was amazing. He said that we're just family, and that's truly special to me. It means so much because that's how I look at all my other teammates that I've been playing with for years now. If anyone was to come into town in the offseason and say, hey, they need help. I tried to find a way to help them out or stuff like that. That's what he's been doing for me, which is awesome. He’s really given me a lot of tips for being a shortstop, tips about being a leader and a good teammate in the clubhouse, all these things. And just a smarter baseball player. Little details in the game. I mean, he was, I would say just as good if not a better coach when he was out as he is a player when he's playing. It was like having four bench coaches.”

Having the first two picks from the 2012 draft class (Correa and Byron Buxton) to mentor Lewis has been a tremendous asset to his development. Lewis has never felt the pressure of being a number one overall pick from outside sources such as fans and writers. If there is any pressure Lewis struggles with, it’s not from fans on Twitter, it’s from himself, as he shared.

“I've talked to Buxton about the game, not necessarily as much as like the pressure. I honestly have never felt pressure, I put pressure on myself, which is different. I think everyone expects to kind of put goals and pressure on themselves to do things whether I'm trying to get this job and promotion here or I want to be the best at this job that I do, or I want to be the best painter in the world. There's always something that you're putting expectations on yourself for. As a baseball player, I think that helps me to continue to perform and be better. Just because I'm always trying to exceed my goals and expectations that I put on myself,” said Lewis. 

In his free time, Lewis has had the opportunity to explore Minnesota more than ever before. Although spending nine hours at CHS field every game does take away the time he could spend seeing more of the state. He has still been amazed by how much great food the Twin Cities has to offer and is even more happy that Raising Cane's has many locations in the area. When Lewis’ family comes to town again, he hopes to see some of the many lakes the state has to offer. 

Until he receives the call back up with the Twins, Lewis plans to make the most out of every game he gets on the field, no matter where he has to play. Because to him, every day at the ballpark as a player and a fan of the game of baseball, is something to cherish after sitting away from it for too long. 

 

 


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Not only a gifted player, he also has a great attitude. That has helped him to face all challenges he's faced. Toughest position & most foreign is OF, I believe we have the OF covered so we don't have to waste his time out there . He is very comfortable at SS & 3B so I'd preferred he had more playing time at 2B  & 1B. It wouldn't be hard for him to adjust there and he'd be our best RH hitting platoon player at those positions along with subbing both SS & 3B.

He's a very special player we need him in the MLB line up as much as possible and not in AAA.

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We forget that he needs to play everday. Just to build up the strength and endurance. 

 

Will he make it thru an entire season after absically sitting out two years?

 

I am comfortable with him just getting glimpses of life in the major leagues in 2022. And hope the Twins bring him up to play everday if a regular goes down.

I just wish rosters could be expanded bigtime in September like in the past. Even a player riding the bench in that month is a learning experience. I was surprised when the player's union didn't fight this...more salary for minor league players.

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