The plan is for Lewis to relieve today's starter, Jake Newberry, and for the two to reverse roles at a later date. Figuring a five-man rotation, that could be Friday in the last of a three-game set at the Bluefield Blue Jays.
Lewis will have a personal cheering section during his six-day visit to the Mountain State — his host family from last summer plans to attend and watch him make his fifth-ever appearance as a professional pitcher.
“It will be nice being back in the area again,” Lewis said in a text message.
Lewis established himself last season as arguably the best pitcher in the Miners’ first three years of existence. He opened the season with a no-hitter against Slippery Rock, then did it again at Lorain County. They are the only two no-hitters in team history.
Lewis finished the season 8-1 with a 2.70 earned run average and had 71 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched.
He went out with a flourish, setting a Miners record with 18 strikeouts in a complete-game 4-1 win over Dubois County in the first game of the Prospect League championship series.
Shortly after that performance, Lewis signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals and was assigned to the Idaho Falls Chukars of the short season Pioneer League. In four appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA.
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The presence of Lewis won’t be the lone Miner connection at Hunnicutt Field.
Steve Crosier, who served as the Miners’ hitting coach last summer, is back with the P-Rays as their strength and conditioning coach. He served in that same capacity in 2011.
Crosier is a former All-American at West Virginia State before starting a successful career as a high school coach. He took South Charleston to three state tournament berths during his 11-year tenure there.
He then concentrated on his strength and conditioning career, with stops in the New York Mets organization — including a stint with Kingsport of the Appalachian League — and New Mexico State.
Crosier said recently that he relished his time with the Miners and appreciates everything the Epling family did for him during his summer in Beckley.
— E-mail: gfauber@