Texas Rangers: Colby Lewis

Rangers seek a healthy Fielder and Darvish

January, 23, 2015
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Prince FielderAP Photo/LM Otero"I'm in there," Prince Fielder said of feeling healthy enough to return to the Rangers' lineup.

DALLAS – Injuries dominated the Texas Rangers' 2014 season.

They became so much of a focal point that right-handed starter Colby Lewis, a man who returned from elbow and hip surgeries, said he thought Mitch Moreland and Shin-Soo Choo played on broken ankles last season.

They didn’t, but it’s clear health was a major contributor to the team's 95 losses.

That can’t happen again in 2015 for the Rangers to contend, and two key players coming off health issues, Prince Fielder and Yu Darvish, need to be available for an entire season.

The pair spoke to reporters Friday prior to the Rangers' annual banquet.

Fielder lasted just 42 games before a pinched nerve forced him to undergo surgery. He hit just three home runs and drove in 16 -- far short of his totals in the three seasons before he arrived in Texas, during which he hit 38, 30 and 25 home runs for the Detroit Tigers.

Fielder, 30, said he's feeling good.

“I can play a pickup game right now,” he said. “I’m in there, I’m in there.”

The Rangers need Fielder to be the power hitter they missed last season. His absence placed tremendous pressure on Adrian Beltre to carry the offense. Beltre, the Rangers’ MVP, hit .324 with 77 RBIs -- though his 19 home runs were his fewest since eight in 2009.

Fielder’s return should resound through the lineup.

“It was real difficult,” said Fielder, who played in 162 games for three consecutive seasons before his injury. “I wasn’t used to missing games, so to miss a lot of the season, it was difficult at first. But I had to be an adult about it and just get back healthy to get ready for this year.”

Darvish is another story.

The right-hander missed the final month and a half of the 2014 season with inflammation in his throwing elbow. He’s throwing on flat ground now, earning the praise of pitching coach Mike Maddux, and expects to throw off a mound within the next two weeks.

“My elbow is feeling great and I’m doing the program that is provided from the team,” Darvish said through his new interpreter, Shun Ukita.

In 22 starts, Darvish pitched into the seventh inning 14 times. He was a dominant force, an ace the Rangers needed regardless of how the season was going.

While the 28-year-old is in terrific shape, he has dealt with lower-back and neck issues in the past. The elbow was never much of a problem until last year, and drama followed the injury.

Pitching through the discomfort was discussed, but the Rangers thought it was wise to shut Darvish down given where the team sat in the standings.

“It was very disappointing with the [last-place] position the team was in,” Darvish said. “We weren’t really playing well [and] it was disappointing not being with the team.”

Darvish said he has built a special gym in his house in his native Japan, and that he’s stronger and has put the lower-back issues in the past. Darvish, more than anybody on this Rangers pitching staff, understands the expectations placed on him.

It can’t be another lost season for him and Fielder.

When key players are healthy, positive results are mandatory.

If two of the Rangers' better players can't lead them, Jeff Banister’s rookie season as a manager could be painful to watch.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Sometimes you have to sit back and think about whether it’s worth it.

Yes, the money and fame that comes with being a baseball player is nice. You get recognized at the mall, in the park and while eating with the wife and kids.

At times the club will ask you to sign autographs and meet the loyal fans. You get a great per diem for road trips. You travel first class. Wear nice clothes.

Being a baseball player is cool.

But Matt Harrison had to decide if it’s worth risking his health.

The Texas Rangers starter has undergone three back surgeries over the last two years. He’s got a vertebrae that slips out of position and also has nerve irritation. On June 3 he underwent spinal fusion surgery where doctors fused the L5 and S1 disks.

He thought about retirement.

“Probably right after the surgery,” Harrison said of when he first pondered giving up baseball. “After the first couple of weeks (following surgery) I haven’t really thought about it until if I started having pain again. Then yes, I would (think about retiring). It would put doubt in my head as far as getting back. But right now I’m focused on the day-to-day goals and getting back as soon as possible, and if things don’t feel good once I get off the mound it’s obviously not worth it. Health and quality life is more important than throwing a baseball.”

Harrison made 62 starts and won 32 games from 2011 to 2012 and was named to the All-Star team in 2012. He pitched Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. The Rangers rewarded Harrison with a five-year, $55 million contract in January of 2013. He’s made six starts since signing the deal.

Back issues have prevented Harrison from getting back to his old form, and there’s no guarantee he can return from spinal fusion surgery.

Why? Because nobody in the history of the game has.

“It’s tough having to slow down, but I understand the situation,” Harrison said. “At the same time, I got one shot at this, and I want to do it right.”

Harrison has been throwing for three weeks and says it takes him a little longer to get warmed up, but the Rangers like what they've seen so far.

There are no expectations for Harrison at this stage of the winter, and there won’t be when pitchers and catchers report to spring training next month in Surprise, Ariz. He’ll pitch on the side for a while, then at some point get on the mound and throw a few pitches. If there isn't any pain, just the normal discomfort that comes from having back surgeries, then maybe he'll throw a simulated game. Then maybe he'll get in a few rehab starts. Before you know it, it will be June and we’ll have a better idea of where Harrison stands.

“Definitely take the slow road, the cautious road,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said of the Rangers' approach with Harrison. “This is not our first rodeo. Matt Harrison with multiple procedures on the same area in his back -- this will be a first, and were going to be cautious.”

The Rangers have four solid starters in their rotation, including Colby Lewis, who returned from hip replacement surgery last year.

“Just focus on getting it right,” Harrison said.

There’s hope. Patience is the key.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- During the Texas Rangers' development camp Wednesday, pitching coach Mike Maddux made a revelation regarding the starting rotation: There might be one spot available.

The Rangers have Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, newly acquired Yovani Gallardo and we thought Ross Detwiler, whom the Rangers acquired in a trade last month, ready to start.

Maddux said not so fast.

“I would have to say there’s definitely a spot open and the more guys you have competing for that, I think that improves the depth in the organization,” he said. “But who’s to say that one of those guys might not make the ball club in a different role. Then, as the season rolls on, you're gonna need a spot start here and there, that’s inevitable. Sometimes those guys get an opportunity like that, ‘Hey we got to see that again.’ Next thing you know, you got six pretty good starters on your hands and you don’t have enough room for them, but that’s a good problem to have.”

Detwiler is moving to the rotation after spending last season in the bullpen for the Washington Nationals. Detwiler has spent a majority of his seven-year career (69 starts) as a starter. Washington moved him to the bullpen last year due to the surplus in the rotation. Now, Detwiler hopes to return to the rotation.

Maddux said there are no guarantees regarding Detwiler making the move back. The Rangers moved bullpen pitchers to the starting rotation before and saw mixed results.

“He will let us know,” Maddux said of Detwiler. “We’ve been successful with it and unsuccessful with it. I think it all comes down to the person and what their motivation is and what their drive is. If they’re blessed with that good health to go out there and log the innings or if they're a better fit to throw less innings and more games.”

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The Texas Rangers wanted a quality starting pitcher to help Yu Darvish and Derek Holland at the top of the rotation in 2015. Enter Yovani Gallardo, a Fort Worth, Texas, native who attended Trimble Tech High School.

The 28-year-old, obtained Monday in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, is entering the final year of his contract, under which he is due $13 million, though his hometown team is open to signing Gallardo long-term.

However, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said during Monday’s conference call with reporters, results will determine plenty.

“We’ve got to let it play out, at least for right now,” Daniels said. “We haven’t had any discussions with Yovani.”

The right-hander brings plenty of positives to the Texas rotation: He has pitched at least 180 innings in six of his eight big league seasons and made at least 30 starts the past six.

“A workhorse,” manager Jeff Banister said.

The Rangers will pay $9 million of Gallardo’s salary, and a long-term commitment depends on whether he can win games for a team coming off a 95-loss season. This past season, according to FanGraphs' calculations, Gallardo’s Wins Above Replacement was 1.7, third-best on the Brewers and just slightly above Colby Lewis' 1.6.

Gallardo changed his style slightly from a strikeout pitcher to one who pitches to contact. He joked that one has to do what’s necessary to get people out, which is what you want to hear from a pitcher.

If Gallardo pitches well, the Rangers should give him a long-term deal.

“Of course, any player would,” Gallardo said of wanting to be in that situation. “Just growing up here and having family, as far as that is concerned, I thought about it. But right now, it’s a situation where they announced the trade [Monday], and I’m really focused on the season.”

Patience is the key for the Rangers

January, 19, 2015
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video

For the Texas Rangers' fan base, the majority of this offseason has been spent learning about patience.

After you lose 95 games and a manager and see star players not finish the season due to injuries, the offseason couldn’t come fast enough.

But then fans saw other teams in the American League West make splashes before and during the winter meetings in San Diego, while all they saw from the Rangers was a pair of minor moves. It prompted general manager Jon Daniels to retort he didn’t care what people thought of how he was conducting business.

Well, the Rangers finally made a substantial move Monday.

The team traded right-handed pitchers Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan and infielder Luis Sardinas to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed starter Yovani Gallardo.

It’s not on the level of Max Scherzer and his reported $210 million deal with the Washington Nationals, but for the Rangers, the deal is their best move of the offseason.

Adding quality starting pitching is something Daniels underlined as important. The Rangers still need a backup catcher and probably a corner outfielder, but if Daniels doesn’t fill these holes from outside the organization, the internal candidates are quite suitable.

The young pitchers down on the farm could help, but an extra year of seasoning wouldn't hurt. Daniels found the next-best thing for new manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Mike Maddox: a quality veteran starter for the middle of the rotation.

At the top of the rotation are Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. Colby Lewis mans the back end, with Gallardo and Ross Detwiler in the middle.

Gallardo, a Fort Worth, Texas, native, went 8-11 in 2014 and lost five of his final seven starts.

The ability to eat innings is one requirement for quality starting pitching, and Gallardo, who has made at least 30 starts in each of the past six seasons, fits the bill there. The 28-year-old pitched at least 180 innings those past six seasons and reached 200 twice.

Gallardo pitches to contact, and though opposing hitters make contact 71 percent of the time -- 3 percent higher than the league average -- there’s hope he’ll be just fine at Globe Life Park.

Adding Gallardo will cost the Rangers $13 million in additional salary -- not too bad for just one season, with Gallardo entering the final year of his contract. Gallardo is open to staying long-term, and Daniels has said he wouldn’t mind trading for a pitcher with one or two years remaining on his contract, given the possibility of a long-term deal down the line.

Fans whose patience has worn thin at times this winter can relax a little bit, because the Rangers did something good.

That’s all you can ask for.

Rangers move two relief pitchers

December, 16, 2014
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The Rangers designated two relief pitchers for assignment Tuesday night to clear roster space for the free-agent signings of starter Colby Lewis and reliever Kyuji Fujikawa.

Left-hander Scott Barnes and right-hander Ben Rowen were designated for assignment. The club has 10 days to trade, release or outright Barnes and Rowen to the minor leagues.

The Rangers now have a full 40-man roster with the additions of Lewis and Fujikawa.

Barnes was picked up from Baltimore on a waiver claim during the winter meetings and Rowen spent the bulk of the season with Triple-A Round Rock.

Ross Detwiler looks for fresh start

December, 12, 2014
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This offseason seems to be about fresh starts.

We start with Joe Maddon leaving the small market Tampa Bay Rays and moving to the now big-budgeted Chicago Cubs to manage.

There’s Jimmy Rollins getting traded from the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies to have a shot at another ring with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Matt Kemp leaves the world of the Dodgers and the temperamental Yasiel Puig for the calmness of the San Diego Padres.

On a smaller scale, depending on your perspective, the Texas Rangers were also involved in these fresh starts. The team traded two minor leaguers to the Washington Nationals for left-handed starter Ross Detwiler on the last day of the winter meetings.

Detwiler needs a fresh start.

He wants to start, but in the middle of spring training last season the Nats decided to place him in the bullpen. He participated in 47 games and compiled a 4.00 ERA. He finished tied for fifth in the NL in pitches per game in relief (22) and fifth overall in average outs per game in relief (4.0).

But Detwiler has a yearning to become a starter, and this trade allows him to do that.

“I think it’s a fresh start and a chance to start over and be a starter again,” Detwiler said. “Washington had a ton of great arms and a lot of them had success, and I felt like I was the odd man out there. Now I get to move to a team that traded for me, which means they wanted me and they can put some runs on the board and they can play defense.”

In 69 career starts, Detwiler is 17-29 with a 4.02 ERA. The most innings he’s ever pitched was 151 in 2012. The next season he was limited to just 13 starts because he endured back problems in the second half of the season.

Washington does have a boatload of talented starters and it was easy to push Detwiler to the pen. He was left off the postseason roster too, and while he didn’t request a trade, it’s pretty easy to assume he wanted to do something else.

“I don’t look at it as if (Washington) was giving me up,” Detwiler said. “I looked at it as if the Rangers really wanted me and they were willing to give up some of their prospects for me, so I’m very appreciative for both sides. I think this will be a better fit for me.”

He's part of a group of starters looking to become the No. 3 or No. 4 man in the rotation that also fields Colby Lewis, another middle-of-the-rotation type of pitcher.

Detwiler said he’s not motivated to prove people in Washington they were wrong for letting him go, understanding it’s more about the business side of baseball. If you have somebody better than the other guy, use him. The other guy gets traded, demoted or is given his unconditional release.

In Detwiler’s case, he was traded and now is presented with an opportunity to help a team looking for starting pitching in the second and third tiers of the trade and free-agent marketplace.

“It’s well-documented that he wants to start,” GM Jon Daniels said. “He’s motivated and he has internal drive, and internal motivation is usually a good thing.”

Rangers offer contract to Justin Masterson

December, 9, 2014
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SAN DIEGO -- According to a source, the Texas Rangers offered a contract to free-agent pitcher Justin Masterson on Monday night.

But the Rangers are not alone in their quest for Masterson. A source told ESPNBoston.com the Boston Red Sox have also made a contract offer to the right-hander, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals last season.

The Red Sox are in need of pitching, and while they wait for free-agent lefty Jon Lester to make a decision regarding his future employment, the club is seeking other quality pitchers.

The Rangers are in the same situation. However, they have spoken to other clubs about a trade, most notably the San Diego Padres and New York Mets. Last week the Rangers signed veteran right-hander Colby Lewis to a one-year deal worth $4 million.

One of the main objectives for the Rangers is finding a No. 3 starter.

Masterson, 29, dealt with numerous injuries last season, from his knee to his shoulder to his oblique muscle. After making 19 starts for Cleveland with a 5.51 ERA, he was traded in July to St. Louis.

He pitched in nine games for the Cardinals, with six starts. In those starts, he had a 7.90 ERA. Opponents hit .312 against him with six home runs.

Colby Lewis looks to build in 2015

December, 5, 2014
12/05/14
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Colby LewisAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillThe Rangers are banking on Colby Lewis to build on the success he had in the second half of 2014.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The biggest reason the Rangers signed Colby Lewis to that one-year $4 million contract Thursday afternoon was potential.

Do 35-year-old men have potential?

Of course.

The Rangers are banking on Lewis to build on the success he established in the second half of the 2014 season in 2015.

“I feel like I’m going to be one of those guys like I was in the past three or four years,” Lewis said. “Where I was able to go out there and eat up 200 innings and be able to contribute."

It was a well-deserved contract for Lewis who fought through so much just to get here.

There was this invite to the big club last season worth $2 million that Lewis took and earned a spot on the roster. He pitched poorly in the first half of the season (6.54 ERA, opponents hitting .358 in May) as he tried to get his body back together. Lewis had minor elbow surgery and he was just seven months removed from hip replacement surgery.

He missed all of 2013 trying to heal.

If you don’t believe it, Lewis will show you the pictures on his cellphone: The long scar, the silver joint and the jokes about going through airport security.

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Michael Kirkman signs minor league deal

December, 4, 2014
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- With the Texas Rangers signing Colby Lewis to a one-year deal on Thursday, the club also signed left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman to a minor league deal.

Kirkman will be invited to spring training with a chance to make the big club, the same situation Lewis was in last season. Kirkman, who was out of options, wasn't tendered a contract by Tuesday's deadline, allowing him to become a free agent.

In 36 games for Triple-A Round Rock, Kirkman went 5-5 with a 4.47 ERA. After getting called up to the Rangers, he pitched in 12 games, going 0-1 with a 1.59 ERA.

The Lewis signing, which is worth $4 million, gives the Rangers 38 on the 40-man roster.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday night he expected the club to finalize a deal to bring back right-handed starter Colby Lewis. Lewis' agent, Alan Nero, told ESPNDallas on Tuesday night he expected something to happen by the weekend.

"I think we're try to finalize it this week, that's my goal," Daniels said. "I expect he'll be back."

Lewis missed the 2013 season recovering from hip replacement surgery and minor surgery to his elbow. He was signed to a minor-league contract, made the club and tied for the team lead in victories with staff ace Yu Darvish at 10.

Toward the end of the season, Lewis expressed a desire to return, and during the last trip of the 2014 season held a brief chat with Daniels, telling him as much. But when the club failed to reach a deal with Lewis in October, there was some concern it wouldn't happen.

However, Daniels left the door open for Lewis because of his veteran presence in the starting rotation.

Lewis finished 10-14 with a 5.18 ERA and a team-high 29 starts. He was a consideration for the AL Comeback Player of the Year award given how he pitched in 2014, participating in a team-high 170 1/3 innings after having hip replacement surgery.

Once the deal becomes finalized, Lewis will become the veteran the Rangers are looking to use for the back end of the rotation.

Rangers prepare for Rule 5

November, 20, 2014
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The Texas Rangers have a deadline of 11 p.m. CST today to protect players from the Rule 5 draft.

In order for that to happen, the Rangers will move some eligible minor league prospects to the 40-man roster. Any players who are eligible, but aren't added to the 40-man roster, can be taken by other teams during the Dec. 11 draft.

Players eligible for the draft mostly include high school, international and college players signed in 2010.

Currently the Rangers have 38 players on the 40-man roster after the decision to trade the rights of right-handed starter Miles Mikolas and left-handed reliever Aaron Poreda to Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese League for cash.

The Rangers plan on adding catcher Jorge Alfaro, right-handed starters Luke Jackson and Jake Thompson to the 40-man roster.

With the club at 38, the team will have to release one player to make room for these three players.

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PHOENIX – Yu Darvish is the ace to the Texas Rangers pitching staff. He’s a man who has proven he can make at least 30 starts per season.

In his first season with the Rangers, he took North Texas by storm with 29 starts, then 32 the following season pitching in 209.2 innings.

Last season, he missed Opening Day with neck issues and then finished the season with inflammation in his right elbow. He pitched 144.1 innings, and you want more from your starter.

Darvish has spent time on the disabled list every season of his career with the Rangers and to say he’s a durable pitcher is debatable just based on his time on the DL.

Darvish is an excellent pitcher, you could say one of the Top 10 in the business.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he's not worried about Darvish's durability.

“He’s on a pretty good maintenance program as far as the neck is concerned,” Daniels said. “He takes as good of care of himself as anybody. That part is not a concern.”

There were two veteran pitchers, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis, who were praised for battling back from serious ailments. Holland rebounded from microfracture surgery and was praised for not giving up on the season. Lewis was praised for returning from elbow and hip surgeries. This was a man who pitched with a replacement hip and tied Darvish in wins at 10.

The Rangers made the right decision in shutting Darvish down in a bad season because what’s the point of pitching through pain when it could lead to a more serious injury.

If the Rangers contend, the pitching staff needs a healthy Darvish. So when Darvish comes to the States next Thursday for a checkup and a chat with the new manager, Jeff Banister, the expectations given to him are he not only needs to pitch like an ace, which he’s done, but stay injury-free for 2015.

Rangers open for a Colby Lewis return

November, 10, 2014
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PHOENIX -- A few weeks ago, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said right-handed starter Colby Lewis would test the free-agent market. Daniels did caution at the time that it didn't mean the end of the line for the veteran, who pitched in 170 innings after recovering from elbow and hip surgeries in 2014.

Monday, Daniels said he spoke with Lewis last week about a possible return and continues communication with agent Alan Nero.

"I think both sides wanted it to work out," Daniels said.

The issue with the Rangers and Lewis is money and length of contract. He was offered a minor league contract last season, and after making the team earned $2 million.

Will Lewis get a two- or three-year deal from the Rangers?

At 35, giving him more than two-year deal given his health history is risky. However, Lewis proved he's fully recovered from hip surgery, and as the 2014 season progressed he got stronger.

In the final two months of the season, Lewis pitched past the sixth inning six times and threw two complete games. Lewis did go 1-4 in his final five starts of the season, but that could be attributed to the young lineup trying to produce runs for him more than anything else.

At the top of the rotation is Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, and Daniels said pitching is the No. 1 priority this offseason. Retaining Lewis, who has won 54 games in seven big league seasons for the Rangers, would mark some stability toward the back end of the rotation.

"It's the first time he's been healthy and able to test the market," Daniels said. "I think it's an opportunity he should take advantage of. I think he understands where we're at and what we want to do and I think we're both mindful of the calendar as well. We understand there are other suitors for both and we're being respectful of each other and communicated so nobody is surprised. But if I had to guess [if] it would get done, at the end of the day: you never know."

Colby Lewis to test free-agency waters

October, 31, 2014
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While it might not mark the end of his time with the Texas Rangers, right-handed starter Colby Lewis failed to reach an agreement with the club for a new contract and will test the free-agent market.

Lewis battled back from elbow and hip surgeries last season to tie for the team lead with 10 wins. He finished with a 5.18 ERA in 29 starts.

"We've had dialogue there," GM Jon Daniels said in a conference call Friday. "Not able to reach an agreement. It doesn't mean we will (or won't) at some point down the line, but he's going to test the market, and I think you know I have a ton of respect for Colby as a player and as a person. The door is open and if it works for both of us at a later point. But he's going to test the market right now."

Lewis expressed to Daniels during the last road trip of the season that he wanted to return, but the two sides just couldn't finalize a new deal. Lewis signed a one-year, $2 million minor league deal last season.

Based on what Lewis did, there might be an expectation he wanted a two-or-three year contract. But given his age (35) and the assortment of injuries he's recovered from, another one-year deal might have been offered.

The Rangers are still confident in ace Yu Darvish and No. 2 man Derek Holland to lead the rotation. But Daniels has said his No. 1 priority is pitching this offseason and keeping Lewis as a back-of-the-rotation type starter seemed a given considering the mutual respect on both sides.

As it stands now, Lewis isn't part of the plan, though it could change.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182