On road back from surgery, right-hander trying to build up arm strength
Special to MLB.com
FRISCO, Texas -- Colby Lewis breezed through the first two innings of his rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Monday, retiring all six batters he faced, striking out three of them.
The third inning, however, proved much more troublesome for Lewis, who gave up a leadoff home run to San Antonio's A.J. Kirby-Jones. The towering blast to center was the first of four hits Lewis allowed in the third before he was pulled with one out in the inning.
Lewis, rehabbing from surgery that repaired a torn flexor tendon in his right arm last July, gave up two runs on those four hits in 2 1/3 innings. He threw 47 pitches, 33 for strikes, including first-pitch strikes to eight of the 11 batters he faced.
"I'm just trying to get reps and get my arm strength back to where you know you can get a big league hitter out," Lewis said. "Right now, in my mind, I don't feel like I can do that. I definitely feel like I can locate. I feel like my velocity's down, and I definitely need to generate more power."
Lewis topped out at 87 mph, according to the radar gun at Frisco's Dr Pepper Ballpark, with his fastball consistently being clocked between 84-86 mph.
"[That velocity] isn't going to cut it, not for me anyway," Lewis said. "I feel like I'm on a roller coaster. Some days my body feels really good, and some days it doesn't. Maybe that's just age in this game. I'll grind through it."
Lewis surrendered three straight hits -- including a double to Chris Burke, who scored on a single by Reymond Fuentes -- with one out in the third before being pulled.
Lewis was visited by the team trainer following Burke's double, but he stayed in the game to face two more hitters, both of whom singled. After needing 23 pitches to get through the first two innings, Lewis threw 24 in the third.
"[The trainer] was just checking on me because of how my body feels," Lewis said. "Hopefully I get some more starts here and build up some arm strength and get my velocity back to where it needs to be."
This was Lewis' second rehab start, the first coming on May 9 for Triple-A Round Rock. Lewis allowed three runs on four hits in two innings, fanning two and walking two in that outing. His rehab assignment was set back when he received an injection for inflammation in his right triceps four days later.
"I felt like I could throw a little longer," Lewis said. "That first start, I felt great in the first inning, and today it prolonged a little more. It felt like I had two innings. Maybe it takes me a little bit longer to get fully back and throw six, seven, eight, nine innings."
Lewis is one of four Rangers starting pitchers currently on the disabled list, the others being Matt Harrison (lower back), Alexi Ogando (biceps tendinitis) and Neftali Feliz (Tommy John rehab). Without them, Texas still has the best record in baseball at 29-15 and holds a 6 1/2-game lead in the American League West.
Lewis last pitched on July 18, 2012, in his first start after returning from the 15-day DL for forearm tendinitis. Lewis was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA last season and was one of the Rangers' top starters when they made their first two trips to the World Series in 2010-11, going 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA between those two postseasons
"We're playing pretty good ball right now," Lewis said. "They're definitely holding their own without me. I don't really look at it like they need me. I kind of look at it like I want to get back and contribute. I don't feel like there's any pressure on me."
With both Frisco and Round Rock set to be on the road soon, Lewis is unsure of when or where his next rehab start will be. Frisco begins a six-game road trip Wednesday, and Round Rock starts an eight-game road swing on Friday.
"I'd like to be back before the All-Star break, that's for sure," Lewis said. "I'm not impatient. I'm just trying to get right. We'll see what happens."