PEORIA, Ariz. — Colby Lewis continued to show promising signs in his comeback bid Sunday.And more and more, he looks likely to earn a spot in the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation.The 34-year-old right-hander, who is coming off hip surgery, held the Seattle Mariners to one hit in two innings of work in the Rangers’ 9-8 loss at Peoria Sports Complex. Lewis had a strikeout and walked one batter during an efficient 23-pitch outing, his second of the spring.“I felt like I got back to kind of being myself,” he said. “I can definitely chalk it up to the last [outing] being the first time getting out there and being more overly anxious than what I should have been.”After his first outing last week, Lewis said he was still getting used to an increased stride afforded him since the surgery. It’s a part of his mechanics that he calibrated better on Sunday.“I worked on not throwing so far across my body this time, staying down through the ball, and the ball was down in the zone today,” he said. “We got better results, that’s for sure.”His coaches like what they see.“Colby looked like Colby,” Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “His stuff is there; his ball flight is there — everything you’d want.”Rangers manager Ron Washington was equally pleased. Lewis will increase his load to three innings when he pitches in a game later this week.“That’s why we still have spring training,” said Washington, who is cautiously optimistic that Lewis’ comeback will succeed. “We’re just going to keep ramping him up and see how he withstands it. So far, so good.”Lewis said his command was crisper the second time out as he gets used to pitching without pain in his hip.“This time it felt like I was staying on line a lot longer,” Lewis said. “The ball was down in the zone. My misses were a lot cleaner, more in the general vicinity of where I wanted to throw the ball, so it wasn’t so sporadic as last time.”Former UT Arlington star Michael Choice hit his first spring training homer for the Rangers in the sixth to give Texas an 8-3 lead. Robinson Chirinos was 4 for 4 with a double and three RBIs. Prince Fielder doubled for his fifth RBI of the spring to start a four-run third for the Rangers.The Mariners scored six runs on six hits in the eighth against Alex Gonzalez and Cory Burns, who was charged with the loss. Burns took over for Gonzalez after three of the first four Mariners reached base to start the inning. Burns allowed four hits, including two doubles and a triple that center fielder Engel Beltre lost in the sun. Burns also was hit in the back by a line drive from Xavier Avery.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs