Colby Lewis becomes the third member of the Texas Opening Day rotation on the DL.
By ANTHONY ANDROFS Southwest
ARLINGTON, Texas — The No. 1 thing Texas manager Ron Washington stressed to his team when spring training began in February was the importance of staying healthy.
Washington said he was primarily talking to the position players. Maybe his focus should have been the pitchers.
Texas place right-hander Colby Lewis on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with right forearm tendinitis. He's the third member of the Opening Day rotation on the DL, joining Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland.
Texas recalled left-hander Martin Perez to take the open roster spot and plugged right-hander Scott Feldman into Lewis’ rotation slot for Thursday.
Lewis initially felt some tightness in the forearm in a start against Houston on June 17. It was worse in his Saturday start against Colorado. Lewis was hoping to skip just one start, but with the All-Star break looming, the Rangers didn't want to take a risk with their workhorse starter for each of the last two seasons.
"We decided to play it safe and shut him down for that 10-day period here before the All-Star break and our expectation is that he will be able to bounce back and be activated after the break," Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. "Obviously we'll take it step-by-step, but that's our expectation is he'll be back after the break."
Lewis has made 87 starts since the Rangers signed him before the 2010 season counting the playoffs. Daniels said the club has taken steps to try and give starters as much of a break as they can because of the workload. There's no way to know if this injury is related to that.
"You look at Colby for instance. He's probably had two months additional pitching, probably 12 starts," Daniels said. "He's held up remarkably well. Some of these things are inevitable. We've talked about it. We've tried to take steps to guard against it. I think that's one of the natures of the beast."
Lewis (6-6) said he had a similar issue while pitching in Japan in 2008. He went on to win 15 games that season and pitched 178 innings. He had an MRI on the arm and received a cortisone injection Monday.
"I'd rather be safe than sorry and not push the issue now and then not be able to be there for these guys at the end of the year," Lewis said. "I might as well miss two (weeks) and have a break and then be ready to come back after that. It's the same type of feeling I had in 2008. It's just a situation where maybe it needs rest."
The Lewis injury creates another domino effect for a Texas staff which was injury free for the first seven weeks of the season but now has five pitchers on the DL.
Perez will be available in the bullpen on Tuesday and could figure into the mix for Saturday's vacant starting spot along with Justin Grimm. That decision depends on how the two of them are used in relief over the next couple of games.
Perez, 21, was 5-5 for Triple-A Round Rock. The lefty was solid in his last two starts, winning both and allowed just two runs in 16 innings. The highly-touted Venezuelan is looking forward to the opportunity to show what he can do for Texas.
"I've been working hard and it's finally paid off for me," said Perez, who changed up his between-start throwing program a couple of weeks ago and has seen dividends from the move. "Of course, I'm here to help the team as much as I can, and try and stay here."
While Lewis is the latest starter to go on the DL, the club is pleased with the progress its other injured pitchers have made.
Holland, who is out with left shoulder fatigue, makes his first rehab start Wednesday for Round Rock. He's slated to start again Monday. Daniels said the team wants him to make a third rehab start, but that may change now because of the rash of injuries.
Right-hander Alexi Ogando, who has a groin strain, threw from 90 feet Tuesday and could throw a bullpen session next week. Feliz, who has a sprained right UCL, also threw from 90 feet on Tuesday and could throw off a mound the weekend before the All-Star break. Reliever Koji Uehara could begin throwing bullpens next week.
While the Rangers are in the midst of a tough injury stretch, manager Ron Washington isn't feeling sorry for his team.
"This game is always a mental test," Washington said. "These guys have always handled adversity well. They don't let what's not here affect what they have to do. I think that's why we've been able to hold on because we just play what we've got."