Royce Lewis Demotion is Frustrating, Predictable… and Understandable

AP Photo: Jeff Chiu

Carlos Correa is healthy and ready to return to the Minnesota Twins lineup on getaway day vs the Oakland Athletics Wednesday afternoon (2:37 CDT). Let’s celebrate, right? Wrong. To make room for Correa on the 25-man roster, the Twins sent rookie sensation, Royce Lewis, down to (AAA) St. Paul.

This, immediately after he hit a homerun and a double in Tuesday night’s loss vs the A’s. His final night in the big leagues (for now) pushed his batting average (in 11 games) up to .308 and OPS to .889.

Frustration Hits Fanbase

Fans and many media members in town had convinced themselves, even before last night’s performance, that Royce Lewis was up with the Minnesota Twins to stay. Why would they send down one of their best hitters in a summer where they’re clearly going to compete for an American League Central championship?

Reports had even surfaced (via Darren Wolfson – SKOR North) that even the Twins were discussing where to play Lewis when Correa returned. Doogie’s report got even the most cynical excited… like me. Maybe Rocco and Falvine were going to take the route of boldness, if only for this one instance.

A sizable portion of the fanbase doesn’t like some of the decisions being made during games and behind the scenes, lately. So when the news of Lewis’ demotion started reaching the masses on Wednesday morning, the frustration hit overflow levels.

But understandable

I have no problem with driving the bandwagon of outrage. But in the case of Royce Lewis’ demotion, I’m not as turned off as others rightfully are. While I wish Baldelli and Co. would have kept him up, I understand their motivation in sending him down. Yes, he could have changed positions and adjusted but the move isn’t as easy as some are making it out to be.

Baseball games are usually won and lost at the mental level. Physically, a baseball player may only activate a handful of times through a nine inning contest. Mentally, they have to be on at all times, especially in the big leagues. Whether in the field, at the plate or on the basepaths, players have to be focused.

What’s the count, how many outs, what happens if the ball is hit here, or there? Who is my cutoff, am I a cut off, do I hold the runner or not hold the runner? I mean, this is only scratching the surface of what you’re taught to be mindful of in little league. In the MLB, these guys have full scouting reports for every opposing player in their back pocket.

And predictable…

I’m not trying to make baseball out to be more complicated than it is. A lot of the mental side comes second nature at a young age. But that’s part of my point, too. Royce Lewis would probably look fine playing another position, especially to the naked eye. I can see the sarcastic tweets after he catches his first fly ball in left field: ‘Oh I thought Royce Lewis couldn’t learn another position’.

But the game speeds up for a player who has to think too much. If what is second nature to others, has to become front of mind thought, the game gets harder. That goes for all sports and all jobs. Twins leadership wants to avoid that, at the MLB level, and will move him around when games mean less in St. Paul.

So because of all these different reasons, the Minnesota Twins’ decision to send Lewis is both understandable and predictable. Would I, or the average baseball fan, keep Royce Lewis up? Yes, probably. But this Twins regime is not going to step outside of their cautious approach to health and development very often. And that remains the case here.

Just like I predicted earlier this week.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan