Lewis’ journey led back home to Rangers rotation

Not long after his perfect postseason for the Texas Rangers,

Colby Lewis and his wife were talking about where baseball has

taken them.

The most recent travels were from Japan back to Texas and the

team that drafted him more than a decade earlier. He missed a

season recovering from rotator-cuff surgery, then played games for

Toledo, Detroit, Sacramento and Oakland before pitching two seasons

in the Far East.

”After the World Series was over, she was like it’s crazy how

we’ve gone from so many directions and you got to come back to the

States and go to the World Series,” Lewis said. ”It’s been a


After once expecting to finish his career in Japan, Lewis is at

home again in the Rangers rotation.

With Cliff Lee back in Philadelphia after only a half-season for

Texas, manager Ron Washington has so far guaranteed only two spots

in the rotation for the AL champions – Lewis and scheduled opening

day starter C.J. Wilson.

Lee and Lewis both won three postseason games for the Rangers

last fall, though Lee also lost both of his World Series starts

against San Francisco.

Lewis was 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts,

throwing five scoreless innings in his no-decision. The

right-hander won the pennant-clinching game against the New York

Yankees and was the winner in the Rangers’ lone World Series


”Personally, I was just happy with the success to come back

from Japan and just kind of have everything translate,” Lewis

said. ”I was just happy that it did and I stayed healthy all year

long and made all my starts.”

As a younger pitcher with the Rangers, Lewis admits he was a

hard thrower with no ”real command” of the strike zone. During

his comeback from surgery and his time in Japan, Lewis worked on

that while developing his breaking and off-speed pitches to give

him a better repertoire.

Lewis was 26-17 in 55 games in Japan with a 2.82 ERA, 369

strikeouts and only 46 walks in 354 1-3 innings. In 72 major league

games before that – with the Rangers, Tigers and A’s – Lewis walked

124 batters in 217 1-3 innings.

The Rangers originally drafted Lewis 38th overall with a

supplemental first-round pick in 1999, only months before their

last playoff appearance until last season. They got him back before

last season with a two-year contract that includes a team option

for 2012.

In his first month back with the Rangers, Lewis was 3-0 with a

2.76 ERA in five April starts. That included nine scoreless innings

in a game that Texas won in 11 innings after he was done.

”Just coming back and having a good April, I got off to a good

start and I kind of just kept that confidence level,” Lewis said.

”And kept it rolling throughout the year.”

Lewis pitched a career-high 201 innings with 196 strikeouts and

65 walks during the regular season. He had some tough luck going

12-13 with a 3.72 ERA, with 11 of his quality starts ending with

either a loss (six) or a no-decision (five).

”Really with Colby, it wasn’t just one year,” general manager

Jon Daniels said. ”He’s done it three years in a row counting what

he did in Japan.”

Lewis won 10 games a Rangers rookie in 2003, then opened the

following season in their starting rotation before tearing the

rotator cuff in his right shoulder. He was exposed to waivers after

that season and claimed by Detroit, missing a full year recovering

from surgery before appearing in only two games for the Tigers in


He signed as a free agent with Washington, was released by the

Nationals in spring training and went to the Athletics, who

released him after the 2007 season. Lewis was claimed off waivers

by Kansas City before signing with Hiroshima in Japan.

Washington chose Wilson to start the April 1 opener at home

against Boston because the crafty left-hander won 15 games last

season after moving into the rotation from the bullpen. Lewis

agrees Wilson is deserving and believes it will benefit the Rangers

having two solid starters – one lefty and the other a right-hander

– at the top of the rotation.

”I just kind of want to do the same things that I was doing

last year,” Lewis said. ”Go out and make every start, stay

healthy, do what I need to do to keep my body in shape for a long

season. … If I’m healthy, then everything kind of plays