Colby Lewis proudly carries a self-described “Old Guy’s Card” with him nowadays. All it takes to join is a fake hip.
Lewis didn’t have to use the card to get to spring training, though. He made the drive from his home in Bakersfield, Calif. to the Rangers’ spring complex and avoided the airport security lines that are more of a hassle for him now with a two-pound chunk of metal in his hip. The card, Lewis said, explains the right hip resurfacing procedure he underwent last August.
Lewis cracked a couple more jokes at his own expense Sunday, the day pitchers and catchers reported to camp, but his desire to return to the big leagues is no laughing matter. The hip setback is simply another injury hurdle he has to overcome.
“I did it for the love of the game and wanting to continue to play,” said Lewis, who is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session Monday. “Like my wife said, ‘I’m not ready for baseball to be over.’ Neither am I. It is what it is. You’ve been dealt with the cards you’ve been dealt and have to play with what you’ve got.”
Lewis, 34, has made the best of the deck that baseball has shuffled from so far. He had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery as a 16-year-old, but recovered and was the 38th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft four years later. He missed most of the 2004 season and all of 2005 after undergoing right rotator cuff surgery and was given a 30 percent chance to pitch again.
Lewis had a rocky road back after that surgery, including a two-year stint in Japan, but eventually pitched at a high level again and became a key piece in the Rangers’ rotation during their World Series runs in 2010 and 2011.
In 2012, Lewis was the Opening Day starter but he had season-ending surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow in July and hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since. He tried to make multiple comebacks last season, but encountered several setbacks related to his elbow and also experienced more discomfort in his hip.
Lewis has dealt with hip issues as far back as 2006, and opted to have surgery to fix that and try to make his comeback as pain free as possible. However, returning from this type of hip surgery is an unknown. Few professional athletes have attempted to come back from it, but nobody is counting Lewis out.
“If anybody can do this, it’s Colby,” manager Ron Washington said. “Long shot? I think he has a track record, and the reports we’re getting is that he’s ready to come in here and compete. He’s going to get that opportunity.”
Yu Darvish ended last season with lower back issues and had some hip discomfort earlier this off-season, according to Japanese reporters who met with Darvish after his 34-pitch bullpen session on Sunday.
But Darvish said the hip discomfort went away in the middle of January when his trainer advised him to stop lifting heavy weights. Darvish also revealed that he spent part of the off-season training in Hawaii.
Darvish, last year’s runner up for the American League Cy Young, is expected to start on Opening Day, but has not been told that by Washington. He is 29-18 with a 3.34 ERA in 61 starts over his first two seasons.