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March 26, 2019
Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Kyle Lewis visualized it so many times. A touted first-round draft pick by the Mariners, Lewis was certain by the time 2019 rolled around, he would be a major-league starting outfielder.

Those thoughts were three years ago, before a devastating knee injury caused a major setback to his career dreams.

“I definitely felt I was on the right path,” Lewis said. “But honestly, I think I’m still on the right path. Everybody gets thrown a curveball in life.”

Lewis and other top Mariners prospects got a chance to spend this week in Seattle during a two-game exhibition series against the San Diego Padres. Lewis grounded out and walked Tuesday in San Diego’s 1-0 win over the Mariners to close out spring training.

“I’m just trying to soak in the moment and enjoy it,” Lewis said.

Lewis was the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft as a talented outfielder from Mercer University. Only 30 games into a pro career at Class A Everett, Lewis suffered a gruesome knee injury on a collision at home plate. His injury required a complete reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, along with the medial and lateral meniscus.

Lewis played only 49 games in 2017 while dealing with lingering tendinitis. He underwent another surgery to clean up scar tissue in the knee and remove a bone spur. He didn’t feel 100 percent until the middle of last season while playing at Double-A Arkansas.

So this year, at age 23, is the first time he’s gone through a full spring training with the big-league team.

“Man, it’s been huge,” Lewis said. “It’s kind of my first time of getting the full experience of being a professional baseball player. It’s great for my mentality. It’s been an unbelievable experience and just humbling. For me to see what the top looks like is big for me when I go back to the minors. I know what I have to look forward to and a little more of what’s expected.”

Lewis has made the most of it. He hit .393 in 14 spring games, with three homers, four doubles, five RBIs and a .451 on-base percentage.

“He looks comfortable,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He knows he belongs and he knows he’s going to be a big-league player. Not just a big leaguer, but a contributor. But he still has to go out this year and have a good season and see where it takes him.”

PADRES SWEEP

Luis Urias homered in the sixth inning off reliever Roenis Elias as the Padres swept the two-game series in Seattle. Seattle starter Wade LeBlanc threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and no walks while striking out six. Due to travel and weather, LeBlanc had been used sparingly during spring training.

UP NEXT

Padres: LHP Eric Lauer will make his first opening day start Thursday at home against the Giants. Lauer made 23 starts as a rookie last year, going 6-7 with a 4.34 ERA.

Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (1-0, 4.50) will pitch the home opener Thursday against the Red Sox. It’s the first game of the season for Boston, but the Mariners played two games in Tokyo last week. Gonzales earned the victory on the first game in Japan, allowing three earned runs in six innings of work.

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