The Texas Rangers want Colby Lewis in the starting rotation if he can prove he's ready to take on the challenge.
The Rangers just want Lewis to make at least one more minor league start to prove he's ready, and his next chance will be Sunday in Round Rock against the Houston Astros' Triple-A affiliate from Oklahoma City. It should actually provide a really good test for Lewis, as the Astros' farm is one of the most loaded in baseball. Lewis threw 92 pitches in a minor-league exhibition early this week, allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings, but the pitch count was encouraging. He'll likely look to get to 100 pitches on Sunday before he hopes to return to the Rangers' rotation on April 11 when the Astros come to Arlington.
“We wanted to see Colby get one more tuneup before it’s time to go,” general manager Jon Daniels told reporters. “He’s healthy and throwing the ball well. He’s just fine tuning things at this point.”
Technically, if the Rangers don't put Lewis on the big-league roster on April 10, he can request his release and become a free agent. But as long as the club gives him indication that they'll add him for the April 11 start or maybe even after one more minor-league start, it's hard to imagine he would ask for his release from a club that wants him to be a part of their rotation picture.
The 34-year-old Lewis, who's the greatest postseason pitcher in Rangers history, hasn't pitched in a big-league game since July 2012. That injury was an elbow one that required surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. He was working his way back from that last summer when he had to have hip resurfacing surgery, which is basically a less intense version of hip replacement. According to The Dallas Morning News, Lewis is attempting to be the first pitcher to return to the game after such a procedure.