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 opener of this three-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
”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 (6-6) 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.
”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.
”I don’t mean this in a mean way, but he’s the grandfather of our pitching staff. He’s the leader,” manager Ron 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.”
Lewis is 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in six starts against Seattle in Arlington.
The Mariners (6-5) will counter with Cuban rookie Roenis Elias (0-1, 2.70 ERA), who has turned in two solid five-inning stints before his first look at Texas. The left-hander, who never pitched above Double-A last season, made his only mistake in Wednesday’s 2-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on a two-run homer by Albert Pujols.
"I’ve got to keep pitches down in the major leagues," Elias said through an interpreter. "If you don’t they are not forgiving."
An unfamiliar pitcher could present yet another challenge to Prince Fielder, who finished 0 for 3 in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Houston to drop his average to .149 through his first 12 games with the Rangers.
Seattle’s Robinson Cano is still searching for his first homer with his new team and hasn’t gone deep in his last 14 games against Texas.
The Mariners enter in a 17-inning scoreless drought after Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Oakland.
The Rangers won 12 of 19 meetings a season ago.