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Twins option red-hot Royce Lewis to Triple-A with Carlos Correa set to return

Lewis hit .308 with a .889 OPS in 11 games with the Twins

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics
Minnesota Twins shortstop Royce Lewis (23) and second baseman Jorge Polanco (11) celebrate after defeating the Oakland Athletics on Monday, May 16, 2022, at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California.
Darren Yamashita / USA Today Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Royce Lewis doubled, homered and made a nice defensive play in the Minnesota Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

The reward for his efforts?

A trip back to Triple-A.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli announced after Tuesday night’s game that the Twins have optioned the top prospect back to the Triple-A St. Paul Saints to make room for star shortstop Carlos Correa, who is set to come off the injured list and play in Wednesday’s game.

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“This was an opportunity that he grabbed onto and I think it lays a beautiful foundation on which he’ll build a really good major-league career,” Baldelli said of Lewis.

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The Twins promoted Lewis earlier this month after Correa took a pitch off his right middle finger. While the Twins initially feared a broken finger, Correa ended up walking away with a painful bone bruise instead.

While he was sidelined, the Twins turned to Lewis, whom they selected as the top pick in the 2017 draft. Lewis has been a heralded prospect for years, his journey to the majors slowed by a tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament, which cost him all of last season.

Because of Correa’s injury, he arrived ahead of scheduled — and he delivered.

Lewis hit .308 with a .889 OPS in 11 games with the Twins. His first career home run, a grand slam, earned him an ovation from the Target Field crowd.

“I enjoy each and every day,” Lewis said before the game. “Rarely complain, especially when you’re up here living your dream. I don’t know how you can be upset.”

Even when getting news of his demotion, the shortstop had a smile on his face through the disappointment, Baldelli said.

“That young man is not going to stop working. He’s not going to be any less motivated. I don’t see him changing one bit,” Baldelli said. “He’ll be ready to play, first game back in St. Paul. And he’ll be ready for us when we need him next time around. He’s a good-looking player.”

While the Twins saw plenty to like from Lewis, they also want him to get consistent at-bats, which becomes impossible with Correa’s return.

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Baldelli said Lewis would get most of his work in at shortstop, but he would also be moving around the field a little bit to get him more exposure at different spots.

“The last thing we would want to do is start sending him all around the field to play in places where he’s literally never played a game,” Baldelli said. “You can do that at times if you do it one-off and you send a guy out to a particular spot. But bouncing him all around right now, probably not the best way to go and not the best way to prepare him to play at this level.”

And while Baldelli said optioning Lewis was “not an easy decision,” the Twins are pretty excited about the guy they’re activating from the injured list.

“We’re adding one of the best players in the game back to play shortstop for us every day. That’s pretty nice to be able to write Carlos’s name in the lineup (Wednesday) and I’m very pleased to be doing that,” Baldelli said. “I have no doubt that Royce is going to have a lot of great moments for us going forward and we could be seeing those sooner than later.”

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