ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers have been dealing with nagging pitching injuries for the last two months but have been able to avoid the big one.
They weren’t so lucky Monday.
Texas lost right-hander Colby Lewis for the remainder of the season with a torn right flexor tendon in his upper forearm. Lewis will undergo surgery later this week and he expects the timetable for his return to pitching in a game to be 9-12 months.
“It sucks,” Lewis said. “There’s no other words to really say it. It’s a situation where I don’t want to hurt myself permanently.”
Lewis, the best postseason pitcher the Rangers have had the last two seasons, initially hurt his arm in June. The original diagnosis was right forearm tendinitis but Lewis said an MRI exam then revealed a small tear in the tendon. He was on the disabled list from June 24 until July 17.
He said the treatment he received during the DL stint went well enough that he thought he could pitch through the injury. That lasted five innings last Wednesday, which could be the last appearance the free-agent-to-be makes in a Texas uniform.
Lewis, 32, had Tommy John surgery in high school and had rotator cuff surgery in 2004. He was willing to risk pitching in pain for the club but didn’t want to take a chance on a complete tear and needing another Tommy John surgery.
“I can’t go out there and put myself in a position where I possibly tear that and then I have a chance of tearing that and tearing my Tommy John up,” Lewis said. “Then I’m going to be done for a long time. This is a situation where hopefully I’ll be out short term and not two years.”
In the short term the Lewis loss leaves the Rangers with a huge void. He’s been the veteran stabilizer on the staff for the last two years. Lewis has won 32 games for the Rangers since 2010 and has been the club’s go-to pitcher in the postseason. He’s 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight playoff starts and has the most postseason wins of any Texas pitcher.
The Rangers have some internal options to fill the Lewis void. Left-hander Martin Perez was called up to replace Lewis on the roster Monday and he’ll get the start Tuesday night. Texas general manager Jon Daniels said Neftali Feliz, who will make a rehab start Wednesday, is probably two starts from being able to help the club at the major league level. Scott Feldman, who made a spot start Monday, could also move into the rotation and so could Alexi Ogando.
The Rangers could also acquire another pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline.
“It’s just going to depend on the specifics of the situation,” Daniels said. “We’ve been monitoring the market. We’ve been having our guys out there looking at some different things. We’ve had some conversations with clubs. I just can’t handicap it right now. Our focus is still the same, put the best chance to win, but the deal’s got to be right.”
Whatever the Rangers do, it will be difficult for them to replace a pitcher with the makeup of Lewis. He’s pitching through various ailments since he returned to the team in 2010 and has hasn’t complained about any of them.
Daniels said he knew something was really wrong when Lewis talked about the pain he was in following the start in Oakland.
“This guy is everything you want in a competitor,” Daniels said. “He’s been an absolute warrior for us, pitched in the biggest games, pitched a ton of innings. A lot of times pitching out there with issues and aches and things he didn’t even tell us about. On the rare occasion that he did it was never an excuse not to go out there. He’s been such a leader by example for some of our younger guys.”