SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Colby Lewis has been down this road before. He has come back from rotator cuff and reconstructive elbow surgeries.
This time, he’s trying to make the Texas Rangers after last year’s operation on his right hip.
Lewis agreed to a minor league deal last month that included an invitation to Texas’ big league camp. He threw a batting practice session on Monday.
Lewis, who was the Rangers’ opening-day starter in 2012, hasn’t pitched in a game since he made a five-inning rehab outing in the minors on Aug. 3. He then had hip resurfacing surgery, which is short of a full hip replacement.
While Bo Jackson returned to play Major League Baseball with an artificial hip in 1992 after suffering the injury playing with the Oakland Raiders, no pitcher has come back from hip resurfacing surgery.
“It was something I was willing to take a chance on to try to continue to play this game I love,” Lewis said. “It is kind of uncharted territories for the doctor, too, for me coming back and trying to be as hard as I’m going to be on it and at the level I’m going to play at. He’s excited to see how it’s going to hold up and what it’s going to do.
“It’s a so-called active replacement. It’s not the whole rod down the leg, but it is a good-sized little two-pound chunk of metal in there. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
Lewis was a 1999 first-round supplemental choice of the Rangers and made his big league debut in 2002. He pitched for Detroit and Oakland and spent two years in Japan before returning to Texas in 2010, posting a 3.72 ERA in 32 starts. He won 14 games in 2011 and has a 4-1 record with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason starts.
Lewis made only 16 starts in 2012 before he sidelined by elbow and hip injuries.
“It’s just another something I’ve got to overcome,” Lewis said. “It’s kind of the way my career has been. I’ve never been super healthy. I’ve put three or four years together and get hurt again. That’s just the way my career has gone ever since I’ve been 16 and had Tommy John (surgery).
“I’ve been very blessed to do this as long as I’ve done and to have as many surgeries I’ve had — big surgeries I should say. God didn’t give me a body to hold up all the time.”
The Rangers have two vacancies in their rotation with Derek Holland likely out for the first part of the season after undergoing knee surgery last month.
“The Rangers gave me another opportunity this year to comeback and make the club,” Lewis said. “All I can do is go out there and perform with what I’ve got. If it’s good enough, I’ll make the club. If it’s not, we’ll see what else is out there.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said Lewis’ track record is a positive in his bid to make the club.
“I certainly wouldn’t count Colby out,” Washington said. “You’ve got to wait and see how he performs, but I have no negative thoughts about Colby Lewis. We don’t know what we’ll have until we get on the field, but if anybody can do it, it’s Colby.”
Lewis, who is 44-44 with a 4.76 ERA in 152 career games, just knows he wants to keep playing.
“I definitely want to get another contract after this year,” he said. “My wife said she’s not ready for baseball to be over with and neither am I.”
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