The Twins announced to reporters, including Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com, that Royce Lewis has a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the same ligament he had surgically repaired last year, which will require another surgery. The estimated recovery time is 12 months.
This comes as brutal news for both Lewis and the team, as the youngster already went through this whole process a year ago. It was February of last year that Lewis underwent the procedure the first time, which wiped out the entirety of his 2021 season. This year, he was able to finish the long journey back to health and showed tremendous signs of promise over the first few months of the season.
With Carlos Correa missing some time this year, Lewis was able to make his major league debut. Although he was optioned when Correa returned, he eventually came back with the aim of being a super utility player of sorts, not letting Correa’s presence stop him from getting into the lineup. Such a plan was feasible because Lewis was hitting so incredibly well on the year. In 12 MLB games, he hit .300/.317/.550 for a 148 wRC+, while also slashing .313/.405/.534 in Triple-A for a wRC+ of 151.
Unfortunately, the very day he was recalled, he left the game with a bone bruise in his right knee, which will now finish his season. Unlike his recovery from surgery last year, Lewis will be on the major league injured list, thus entitling him to MLB pay and service time. Since he was in the minors for the first month of the season and then another stretch when he was optioned in May, he will come up short of earning a full year of service. He will still have a shot at earning Super Two status and qualifying for arbitration after the 2024 season, though future optional assignments could also change that trajectory. For his part, Lewis seems to be staying positive about the whole situation, telling Park that he’s not afraid of the surgery because he’s already been through it before.
For the Twins, they will now be without one of their most exciting young players, who was capable of covering shortstop for Carlos Correa but was also spending some time at third base and in the outfield in order to get into the lineup when Correa was healthy. Correa’s contract affords him the ability to opt-out of his contract at the end of this year, something he is expected to do. Many had considered Lewis to be the heir apparent at shortstop, with his dalliances at other positions a temporary measure just for this season. Now the club will likely go into the winter with less certainty around their shortstop situation next year, with the potential that neither Correa nor Lewis will man the position when Opening Day 2023 rolls around.