Right-hander Colby Lewis turned 35 on Saturday, which he celebrated before the Texas Rangers’ game against Cleveland with a significant burrito, chips and guacamole.
He also took a stroll through his long list of medical troubles during his career, most recently a hip resurfacing last August that saved his career. He has also had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, a shoulder reconstruction and a second shoulder operation to clean up scar tissue.
But his remarkable medical history began in 1996, when as a 16-year-old he underwent Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his elbow. Lewis has been told that no pitcher as ever thrown post-Tommy John as long as he has.
At the time, he had just finished his junior season of high school. His profession was student, not baseball player.
“I didn’t have a career,” said Lewis, who recalls foolishly throwing eight innings less than a year after the surgery. “I wanted to play in college. After my first year of college, 18 or 20 months out, that’s when I felt amazing.”
His arm, and the surgically repaired versions of it, have taken him to the Rangers and two other organizations, Japan and back to the Rangers and two trips to the World Series. After his last outing, two runs in seven innings Wednesday against New York, Lewis was convinced that his arm has more left in it.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve talked to [a team doctor], and he thinks I’m going to get better as time goes on.”