Lewis inks Minors contract, invited to camp
Right-hander missed last season due to elbow soreness, chronic hip pain
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have re-signed pitcher Colby Lewis to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Lewis would receive a $2 million base salary if he makes the team and another $4 million in incentives.
Lewis, who describes the Rangers as his "second family," had other offers, but he decided to return to the franchise that selected him in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft and then signed him as a free agent out of Japan in 2010. He ended up being a significant reason why the Rangers went to two World Series in 2010-11.
"We're extremely excited," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He has been such a big part of this franchise over the past few years. He's such a great competitor, but beyond that, he is a huge presence in our clubhouse. Hopefully he can recover from this last surgery and be a big part of our 2014 season."
Lewis missed all of last season because of injury after going 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA in 80 starts for the Rangers in 2010-12. He was 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA in eight starts in the playoffs and was the Rangers Opening Day starter in 2012.
Lewis last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2012, going 6-6 with a 3.89 ERA before going on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. His last Major League start was on July 18 against Oakland, he underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon on July 27 and missed the rest of the season.
The Rangers were hoping Lewis would pitch again in 2013, but he continued to have soreness in his right elbow and was also bothered by chronic pain in his right hip. After seven total outings on rehab assignment, Lewis was shut down on Aug. 3 and did not pitch again. On Aug. 22, Lewis underwent surgery on his right hip to address a problem he had been dealing with for three years.
Lewis is still undergoing a rehab program and has not resumed throwing. The Rangers expect him to begin a long-toss throwing program at some point and progress to throwing off a mound by Spring Training.
"He is progressing well," Levine said. "His feeling is he'll progress into a throwing program and be ready for Spring Training. But we're just going to take it step by step. He may end up being ready, but it will be on his timetable."
The Rangers have a set rotation with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando with Nick Tepesch and Josh Lindblom in reserve. The club also plans on giving Robbie Ross a chance to start in Spring Training.
Lewis adds to the Rangers' depth, especially if they decide to leave Ogando in the bullpen or if Harrison is not fully recovered from his injuries. Harrison missed almost the entire 2013 season because of two back operations and one surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome in his right non-throwing shoulder.
Head trainer Kevin Harmon recently visited Harrison in North Carolina and came back with a positive report, Levine said. At this point, though, the Rangers are expecting Harrison to be at full strength in Spring Training.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.