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Lewis approved to begin throwing on flat ground

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have received good news on pitcher Colby Lewis, who is coming back from surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon.

Lewis was examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Friday and the results were positive. Meister has given the green light for Lewis to begin his throwing program on flat ground.

The Rangers still aren't planning for Lewis to be ready for Opening Day. Right now the tentative target date is June 1. But if Lewis continues to get positive reports from Meister, it could push up the time of his return. Much will depend on how Lewis progresses through each stage of his throwing program and the plan is to go by how he feels.

Lewis was the Rangers' Opening Day starter in 2012 and was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts before being placed on the disabled list on June 26 with tendinitis in his right forearm. He made one start on July 18 against Oakland before going back on the disabled list.

Lewis underwent surgery on July 27. Lewis was eligible to be a free agent after the 2012 season, but the Rangers signed him to a one-year, incentive-laden extension on Sept. 17.

The Rangers currently have a rotation of Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando with the fifth starter spot still open. Left-hander Martin Perez finished the season as the fifth starter, but the Rangers are also considering moving left-handed reliever Robbie Ross into the rotation. Right-hander Justin Grimm is another rotation candidate.

Perez was 1-4 with a 5.88 ERA in his six starts for the Rangers in 2012, while Grimm was 1-1 with an 11.57 ERA. The Rangers, who lost out to the Dodgers in their pursuit of free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke, are still looking for rotation depth. But Lewis is 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA in 80 starts over the past three years and if he continues to make significant progress, it could lessen the club's need for rotation help.

Texas Rangers, Colby Lewis