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Mariners OF Kyle Lewis is close to making his 2021 debut

The American League’s reigning rookie of the year has been sidelined by a knee injury.

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners have gotten very little offensive production from their center fielders this year. That’s about to change in a big way.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said Thursday that the team is “very optimistic” centerfielder Kyle Lewis will play during Seattle’s two-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which begins Monday.

Lewis has been out of action since banging his right knee into the fence during a spring training game on March 22. He was diagnosed with a bone bruise. But the Mariners — and fantasy baseball owners — should welcome him back with open arms.

Lewis led Seattle in home runs (11), runs (37), walks (34), and batting average (.262) last year en route to being the unanimous selection for American League Rookie of the Year. Since 1969, Mark McGwire was the only other rookie to pace his team in those four categories.

By comparison, Mariners centerfielders have hit .139 with 21 strikeouts in 36 at-bats this season, entering Thursday. Most of that belongs to rookie Taylor Trammell. Lewis’ draft stock plummeted with the news of his injury, but he should be inserted back into fantasy lineups immediately upon activation, even versus the best team in baseball and its loaded pitching staff.