BY STEVE HUNT Special Contributor
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After suffering a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow in July, Colby Lewis' rehab is progressing nicely and the Texas starter feels he could even be ahead of schedule when it comes to returning to the Rangers rotation.
"It's going great," he said. "I'm actually doing all the rehab at home and not having to go to anybody, but looking forward to the opportunity to get back in spring training. I feel like I'm ahead of schedule. Overall, I feel great."
Lewis has been doing his rehab in Bakersfield, but returned to the Lone Star State this weekend for the annual Rangers Fan Fest, where players, manager Ron Washington and other club officials interact with the franchise's sizeable fan base. The 33-year-old right-hander is also part of a group of players traveling throughout Texas and surrounding states to sign autographs and hold question-and-answer sessions with fans.
The affable starter, who is 32-29 with a 2.75 ERA in his 80 starts as a Ranger, is glad to be back in Arlington but admits it’s been nice to spend the bulk of his off-season home in Bakersfield.
“Yeah, just hanging out, doing my rehab, been getting my throwing in, racing some go-karts, that’s about it,” said the North High grad.
His last start came July 18 at Oakland, when he allowed just one run on three hits in five innings to earn a no-decision. He had surgery soon after that start. Those monitoring his progress the closest don’t have an exact idea about when he might return, but they are encouraged by how well things have gone thus far.
“Reports have been good,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “I know he got out there with (team medical director) Jamie Reed continuing his throwing program. We’re not going to know until he does that (gets back on the mound). But all the checkmarks that you want to see are there so far. He feels good. The doctors feel good. The trainers feel good. You can’t ask for much more than that. We’ve just got to wait and see.”
The 2012 season started well for Lewis. He went six innings as the Rangers’ Opening Day starter, striking out nine and allowing just two runs in a win over the Chicago White Sox, and he didn’t get his first loss until May 4. He finished 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts.
Originally set to become a free agent after last season, Texas signed him to a one-year extension with a $2 million base but a deal where he could earn as much as $4 million in incentives. Of course, his current focus isn’t on securing another contract, it’s on when exactly he could return to the mound, which he admits right now is a big unknown.
“I have no idea. It all kind of depends on when I get off the mound and get that feel again. That’s going to attest to what’s going to happen and how it’s going to progress,” Lewis said. “Once I get off the mound (is when I’ll know).”
But as a veteran pitcher who has endured shoulder problems before, specifically when he missed much of 2004 and 2005 with a torn right rotator cuff, he knows the most important thing he can do during this entire process is simply maintain a level head about the whole situation.
“It’s like anything else. You’ve just got to deal with it and adapt to it. You can’t really worry about it. It is what it is and just move on,” Lewis said. “You can’t dwell on it.”
Steve Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.