Twins’ Royce Lewis to start rehab Saturday as return draws closer

After nearly two months, Royce Lewis is finally getting his wish: he was cleared to play baseball on Friday.

It’s not at the major league level yet, but the third baseman showed the Twins’ trainers everything they needed to see to clear him for a rehab assignment. Lewis will begin rehabbing with the St. Paul Saints on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y., serving as the team’s designated hitter.

“He ran the bases, kind of did the final thing on what the trainers were looking for as far as the intensity running the bases, running, stopping, starting, sliding, doing all those things,” bench coach Jayce Tingler said. “He’s extremely eager to get out and get going.”

That much has been abundantly clear since Lewis suffered a severe quadriceps strain running the bases on Opening Day.

Though it’s certainly not the longest injury recovery he’s been through, Lewis has described this as his most mentally challenging rehab process, primarily because there wasn’t a clear timeline for a return and he’s been feeling good for some time now.

“He’s been antsier than what I can remember in the in the past,” Tingler said. “He’s been charged up, ready to get out there. I think it’s a bit challenging because he wants to be out there so bad with the guys. … He feels like he’s in a great spot, the medical team feels he’s in a great spot, so now it’s about getting out there and just finding the rhythm and timing.”

Tingler didn’t want to venture a guess about how long Lewis might need to rehab, but he did note that Lewis seems to be the type of player who doesn’t really need a lot of at-bats to get his feel at the plate back. Last year, Lewis came straight off the injured list at the end of the season and hit two home runs in the first game of the Wild Card Series.

While Tingler said he doesn’t think it will take Lewis too long from the hitting standpoint, it’s important for him to gain strength and stamina in his legs and build up properly after almost two months away.

When he does return, it’s an instant boost for a Twins lineup that has been missing one of its best offensive weapons. Lewis had just two at-bats this season — a home run and a single — before suffering the injury.

“He’s a difference maker and a game changer. The fact that we will get him back soon is exciting,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “Adding him to our lineup, it’s going to boost the lineup in a big way, so I’m excited for him to just go out there, take it day by day and go through his things, show everybody that he’s ready and then come back here and help us.”


The Twins made a roster move on Friday, optioning reliever Caleb Boushley to Triple-A and bringing back Jorge Alcala. … Reliever Brock Stewart (shoulder) is continuing with plyo throws as he works his way back. … Chris Paddack will take the ball on Saturday for the Twins’ second game against the Texas Rangers.