ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Colby Lewis is ready to rejoin the Texas Rangers rotation after 21 months and two operations, including an unprecedented hip procedure for a major league pitcher.
The right-hander is scheduled to take the mound Monday night at home for the series opener against Seattle.
”I’m excited to get back, I’m excited for the opportunity to play this game, the opportunity for the Rangers to give me that chance to go out and play, and ultimately continue my career a little bit longer,” Lewis said Sunday. ”Like my wife said, she wasn’t ready for me to be done. So it was extra motivation to get back out there.”
His last start for the Rangers was July 18, 2012, before surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.
While still rehabbing from the elbow surgery, Lewis had right hip resurfacing surgery last August, a procedure to remove bone spurs without a full hip replacement. The 34-year-old Lewis will be the first known major league pitcher to come back after such an operation, though Lewis isn’t concerned with that possible aspect of his comeback.
”I kind of feel like anybody, this is all we ever know is playing sports,” Lewis said. ”There would be a multiple number of guys in (the clubhouse) that if they had the same hip surgery, they’d want to try to be able to make a comeback. So I just happen to be the first guy. So I just want to go out there, perform and put my team in a spot to win, and have a good time doing it.”
Lewis, who had long pitched through the hip issues, was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts in 2012 before his elbow surgery. Two months after that, the Rangers gave him a $2 million, one-year extension for 2013, and he came to spring training this year as a non-roster invitee.
”Just think of what he did with it bad, and now it’s well,” manager Ron Washington said.
Originally drafted by the Rangers in 1999 with a compensation pick between the first and second rounds, Lewis is 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA in 80 starts since rejoining the team in 2010 after two seasons in Japan. He is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason starts – 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA in three World Series games. He first pitched with the Rangers from 2002-04.
Washington said ”it means everything” to have Lewis back in the rotation.
”I don’t mean this in a mean way, but he’s the grandfather of our pitching staff. He’s the leader,” Washington said. ”We were looking for issues in spring training, never happened. Looking for issues in rehab. Never happened. So he feels good about it.”