NEW YORK (AP) — Just back from the injured list, Minnesota Twins third baseman Royce Lewis was ready with a special tribute in his Yankee Stadium debut.

Like many infielders of his generation, Lewis grew up idolizing New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. So to salute the Hall of Famer, the top pick in the 2017 amateur draft tried to imitate Jeter’s batting stance for one pitch his first time up Tuesday night.

“Kind of get in his stance, do his little routine with the arm up,” Lewis described before the game, “and then do a little bat wiggle like him. And then go back to playing the game.”

Of course, when Lewis dug in and raised his right arm like Jeter, plate umpire Chris Segal stopped play for a moment and charged Lewis with his only timeout available during the plate appearance.

Probably not part of the plan. Lewis looked back quickly and then sheepishly stepped out of the batter’s box before ultimately getting back to business and working a walk.

Minnesota reinstated Lewis from the injured list Tuesday after a 58-game absence caused by a severely strained right quadriceps muscle. He was back in the starting lineup at third base, batting fifth against Yankees rookie Luis Gil.

“I grew up loving Derek Jeter, so for me this is huge. I can’t wait. My first at-bat I’m going to give a little testimony to him,” Lewis said. “Kind of mimic the best I can his stance, and just a reminder and a testament to him for the respect and honor that I have for him. He made me part of who I am today, and the love that I have for the game is partly because of him, Torii Hunter, Matt Kemp and some of these other athletes in the game.”

Lewis, who was raised in California and turns 25 on Wednesday, was thrilled to return with the Twins opening a three-game series in the Bronx. Not only was it the first game of his career against the Yankees, it was the first trip of his life to New York City.

“Getting to see all the sights and the feels of what the big city is like, I’m lovin’ it, man. I’m a big fan of New York City,” he said. “I’m having a blast, man. It’s been a fun time, with my family being here as well. So, I’m very open to the concrete jungle, as they call it.”

Lewis entered the series with a perfect 1.000 batting average, having homered and singled in his first two at-bats of the season before getting hurt running the bases on March 28 at Kansas City.

He played in six games on a rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul, going 4 for 23 (.174) with a double, a walk and eight strikeouts.

“It was tough, of course. But I’ve been through it before. It was nothing I knew I couldn’t handle. It was just a matter of trying to hold my patience as long as I could because I was so excited,” Lewis said.

“I feel great. I feel ecstatic,” he gushed. “Amazing place to come back.”

Drafted as a shortstop, Lewis has been limited to 71 games with the Twins. He tore the ACL in his right knee while working out before the 2021 season and suffered the same injury in 2022 just 12 games into his major league career when he collided with the outfield wall while tracking a flyball.

Last season, Lewis hit .309 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs in only 58 games, including a franchise-record four of his five career grand slams. He added four homers in six playoff games for the AL Central champions.

“When Royce has been in the big leagues and playing, he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Second baseman Edouard Julien was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul to make room for Lewis on the 26-man roster. Willi Castro started Tuesday night at second — not a particularly familiar position for him. But the versatile Castro will probably get plenty of time there moving forward, Baldelli said.

Julien was batting .207 with seven homers, 17 RBIs and 66 strikeouts in 58 games.

“He knows he has real adjustments that he’s going to have to make,” Baldelli said.


A previous version of this story was corrected to clarify that Lewis has five career grand slams, including four last season.


AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.