July 23, 2012

Rangers' Pitcher Colby Lewis done for season with elbow injury

Colby Lewis has thrown his last pitch for the season, and possibly his last pitch in a Texas Rangers uniform.

ARLINGTON -- Colby Lewis has thrown his last pitch for the season, and possibly his last pitch in a Texas Rangers uniform.

Lewis is out for the season, as he will have surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow later this week. The surgery will be performed by Rangers team physician Keith Meister, and the recovery timeline is expected to be nine to 12 months.

"It's disappointing," said Lewis, who will be a free agent after the season. "It's disappointing to me, not only me and my family, but for my teammates, for the organization. That's the biggest thing I want to do -- go out and perform and be on the mound.

"It sucks. There are no other words to really say it. It's a situation where I don't want to continue to throw on it and hurt myself permanently."

It's a big blow to the Rangers.

Lewis, 32, has been a staple of the rotation since joining the team in 2010, and has been the most consistent postseason pitcher. He is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason starts. Lewis was the winning pitcher in the Rangers' lone World Series victory in 2010 (Game 3), and pitched well in Games 2 and 6 in last year's World Series.

Lewis finishes his 2012 campaign by going 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts.

The loss of Lewis could alter how the Rangers approach the last seven days until the trade deadline. They have been monitoring the trade market, and starters such as the Phillies' Cole Hamels or the Brewers' Zack Greinke could be targeted.

"It's going to depend on the specifics of the situation," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We've been having our guys out there, looking at different things. We've had conversations with clubs. I just can't handicap it right now.

"Our focus is still the same -- to put the best club out there and give us a chance to win. But the deal has got to be right."

Internal candidates include Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando.

Feliz is rehabbing from right elbow inflammation, and made his second rehab start on Friday with Triple A Round Rock. He lasted 1 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits with two walks and one strikeout.

Daniels said Feliz will need at least two more rehab starts before he could be considered to rejoin the team.

Ogando, meanwhile, is back in the Rangers' bullpen after spending more than a month on the DL with a right groin strain. The Rangers have discussed moving Ogando into the rotation, where he was successful last season.

"Something we've talked about," Daniels said. "When you try to line up your best 12 [pitchers] for down the stretch, obviously he's one of those 12, but what's the best role for him?

"I'm not saying we're committed one way or the other, but we may look for opportunities in the game to stretch him out and give us that option."

For now, the Rangers will go with Martin Perez to fill Lewis' role. Perez was recalled on Monday and will start tonight against Boston. He went 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in four games (two starts) in his first stint with the Rangers from June 26-July 18.

Perez had been called up to fill in for Lewis when he went on the DL the first time with right forearm tendinitis.

At the time, Lewis knew he had a small tear on his flexor tendon, but believed he could pitch through it after receiving a cortisone injection.

He returned on Wednesday at Oakland, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts over five innings. The tightness, though, came back in the fourth and fifth inning.

Lewis has overcome several injuries in his career, including Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in high school and shoulder surgery in 2004. When his big league career was teetering on the brink of obscurity five years ago, he reinvented himself by pitching two seasons in Japan.

Lewis then signed with the Rangers prior to the 2010 season and established himself as one of the most reliable starters on the staff. He threw more than 200 innings in 2010 and 2011, and had thrown 105 innings this season.

"It couldn't happen at a worse time," Lewis said. "With us playing really well and getting prepared for the push and the postseason and all that kind of stuff and then of course me being a free agent at the end of the year. ... But I've always had to work for it."

Added Daniels: "You feel for Colby. This guy is everything you want in a competitor. He's been an absolute warrior for us, pitching in the biggest games, pitched a ton of innings, stepped up time after time. He's been such a leader by example for some of our younger guys. He's not going to give up the ball unless he absolutely has to."

Drew Davison,

(817) 390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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