Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids Kernels top prospect Royce Lewis plays through knee issue

C.R. loses 1st-half finale to Peoria, 12-3

Kernels short stop Royce Lewis looks to throw to first after fielding a groundball at a Kernels baseball game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, May 17, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Kernels short stop Royce Lewis looks to throw to first after fielding a groundball at a Kernels baseball game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, May 17, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — You can’t tell most of the time. Royce Lewis keeps doing Royce Lewis things.

“That’s how it’s supposed to work,” the effervescent Cedar Rapids Kernels shortstop said with an ever-present smile.

You’d never know the super prospect has been dealing with a left knee issue for about a month and a half. It has been diagnosed as patellar tendinitis, and it really flares up on him sometimes.

That’s why he was removed from Saturday night’s game after running out a groundball in the seventh inning. It’s why he got taken out of a game during C.R.’s recently completed road trip.

He didn’t play Sunday as the Kernels wrapped their first half of Midwest League play with a 12-3 loss to Peoria at steamy Veterans Memorial Stadium. That was an easy decision for Manager Toby Gardenhire.

“Toby just said when it looks that bad, obviously, he has to take me out,” Lewis said. “You just can’t get (too) hurt. It’s like a little stinger, just have a little tendinitis. I don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s just rest. We’ve got the all-star break, so that’s perfect.”

Last year’s first-overall draft pick is slated to start in Tuesday’s Midwest League All-Star Game at Lansing, Mich., and said Sunday he plans on playing. Lewis ended the first half with a .302 batting average in 55 games, with 16 doubles, six home runs, 37 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

There have been rumors about him getting promoted to high-Class A Fort Myers circulating for awhile. The bigger deal now seems to be keeping Lewis on the field, wherever that field might be.

“No, I’m not concerned,” Lewis said. “It just takes rest, and we play baseball every day. There is no time to rest, and this is something I can play through. Every once in awhile, it will flare up on me. Yesterday was one of those days. I’ll take today off, I’ve got tomorrow off, we’ve got the all-star game Tuesday, maybe get an at-bat or two. Have Wednesday off, then come back Thursday, and we’ve got a little homestand to start the second half. I’m excited. That’s nice.”

Lewis, who turned 19 a week and a half ago, said learning to play through minor ailments is part of his and everyone else’s development.

“You are never really at 100 percent,” he said. “I would say I haven’t been 100 percent since spring training. After spring training started, you go down (physically) gradually. People ask you if you’re 100 percent, you say yeah, but you’re really not. Realistically, you’re at about 80 percent, and you work it out with that 80 percent. That’s the grind part. Playing through all of these little nagging things.”

Peoria clinched a playoff spot with this victory, hitting a season-high four home runs. Quad Cities won the Western Division and earned the other available postseason bid in the first half.

Starting pitcher Jordan Balazovic (1-1) didn’t allow a run until giving up back-to-back home runs in the fifth, as Peoria took a 3-1 lead. Andrew Bechtold continued his hot-hitting ways with a single, double and walk.

Outfielder (or in this case, designated hitter) Alex Kirilloff went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a run driven in. He finished the first half atop the MWL leader board in home runs (13), hits (84), extra-base hits (38) and RBIs (56).

His .333 batting average ranked third. The 2016 first-round draft pick is taking part in Monday’s MWL Home Run Derby, is a starter in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, then very easily could be promoted to Fort Myers.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

The Kernels begin the second half with a seven-game homestand that begins Thursday night against Wisconsin.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.