Royce Lewis is hungry for more big-stage moments, after 2 grand slams in 2 games
Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023
MINNEAPOLIS — Royce Lewis made a promotional appearance for the Minnesota Twins at the state fair in the afternoon, trying his hand at shearing a cow, chatting with starstruck fans, and chowing down on chocolate cookies, mini-donuts and corn on the cob.
The next stop on his moveable feast came Monday night at Target Field, a fat curveball from Cleveland pitcher Xzavion Curry that Lewis smacked into the bullpen, naturally, with the bases loaded.
Becoming the first Twins player to hit a grand slam in consecutive games and powering the Twins past the Guardians 10-6 to push their American League Central lead to a season-high seven games, Lewis produced yet another team-lifting moment in a major league career that’s only 50 games long.
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Lewis became the 10th player in baseball history to hit at least three grand slams within his first 10 career homers and the first Twins rookie with multiple slams in one season since Danny Valencia in 2010. No other Twins player has hit grand slams on consecutive days.
“The kid’s special. We’ve known that for a while now,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “Now he’s healthy and doing his thing. I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a guy who deserves it. He’s a guy everybody loves.”
The first overall pick in the 2017 draft has followed a sidewinding path to this point, finally thriving in the heart of the Twins lineup at age 24 after a series of setbacks.
The 2020 minor league season was wiped out by the pandemic. Then Lewis suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in consecutive years, further delaying his debut and leading to the signing of Correa that moved him from his natural position at shortstop to third base.
Lewis also missed six weeks this summer recovering from a strained left oblique muscle. Since then, he’s 14 for 47 with four homers, nine runs, 13 RBIs and six walks in 12 games.
“He just continues to do explosive game-changing type of things. He’s making this a pattern, and it’s a pattern that we’re going to take and build off of and keep going,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Who knows what’s coming next? I can’t tell you, but he’s doing his job really well right now. It’s all I can ask for from the guy.”
The Twins were behind 5-0 to Texas in the sixth inning when Lewis hit his grand slam Sunday. They trailed 4-0 in the second when he did it again Monday to cap a six-run inning.
“You’ve got to play the long game. They might’ve won that inning or that half-inning, but let’s finish the rest of the game because it’s a long one,” Lewis said.
The same advice can be applied to his career, having endured all that time in rehabilitation yet still keeping the perpetually optimistic and energetic demeanor that enamored the Twins when they were scouting Lewis as a teenager in Southern California. Those clutch situations don’t amount to pressure for him, only fun.
“Hopefully I’m blessed enough to get those opportunities again,” Lewis said.
Now about that pregame meal: How did all that grease and sugar portend another grand slam?
“Here’s my thing: I eat food that makes me happy. Clearly it works, so I’m going to keep eating what I need to eat,” Lewis said. “In the offseason you’ve got to lock it down, though, that’s for sure.”