Fixed-up Colby Lewis hip to pitch solidly for Texas Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Colby Lewis is hip to pitch for the Texas Rangers, without worrying about all those ''replacement parts'' inside of him.
Lewis chuckles at the suggestion that he is a medical marvel. Or that his hip procedure - unprecedented for an active major league pitcher - should bear his name, much like Tommy John identifies the now well-known elbow ligament replacement surgery.
''I just know how good I feel and I think the results are based upon being healthy,'' said Lewis, who has allowed only two runs over 21 innings his last three starts.
It has been about 21 months since Lewis had a resurfacing procedure to remove bone spurs from his right hip, surgery that was just short of a full hip replacement. That happened while trying to come back from surgery in 2012 for a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.
There was also the Tommy John surgery he had 19 years ago while still in high school, and the torn rotator cuff that led to shoulder surgery in 2004 before his journey to Japan that eventually led back to the Rangers and becoming the best postseason pitcher in their history.
Now 35 years old, the fixed-up Lewis is 3-2 through seven games with a 2.40 ERA that was sixth among AL starters. Opponents are hitting only .220 against him.
''He just looks confident, looks healthy. His slider has a really good bite on it, and he makes a lot of good hitters look bad,'' Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. ''That's the Colby we know.''
Lewis held Kansas City, the majors' top-hitting team, to three hits and one run over seven innings in an 8-2 win Monday night. His next scheduled start is Saturday night at home against Cleveland.
''Not to be rude, but I don't care. I don't monitor that. I don't look at my stats,'' Lewis said. ''I feel like if you get caught up in that kind of stuff, then you start competing for other things than what you need to be doing out there on the mound.''
After allowing a club-record 13 runs and career-worst 13 hits in only 2 1-3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels last July, Lewis had a 6.54 ERA in his first 16 starts after being the first big league pitcher to come back from such an extensive hip surgery. He has a 3.36 ERA in his 20 starts since then.
''I heard about how tough this guy is,'' first-year Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. ''Knowing the back story, the arm injuries, the early arm injury before he even came out of high school, to look at the body of work now, not only that, but the tour of Japan, to come back ... You really can't say enough for what he's been capable of doing, what he's doing right now.''
Drafted by Texas in 1999 with a compensation pick between the first and second rounds, Lewis made his major league debut in 2002 and pitched for the Rangers until his shoulder surgery in 2004. He had stops with Detroit (2006) and Oakland (2007), then spent two seasons in Japan before rejoining the Rangers in 2010, the year they played in their first World Series.
Lewis won Game 6 of the AL Championship Series over the New York Yankees to clinch the pennant, then was the winning pitcher in the only World Series game Texas won against San Francisco.
Add in another World Series trip in 2011, and Lewis is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason starts.
Lewis has repeatedly said how blessed he feels to have had multiple chances to get back to pitching, the latest with a prosthetic in his body.
''There's zero pain,'' Lewis said, describing how his hip feels. ''I have probably 100 percent range of motion, whereas before I had 10, not even 10, I actually had negative. I couldn't even rotate out at all.''