SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Colby Lewis said he wasn't nervous Tuesday. Eager was the better word.
The 34-year-old veteran with a new hip wondered how he would feel throwing to hitters for the first time in a game-like situation. It was just one inning on a back field in Surprise in an intrasquad game, but for Lewis, it was a huge step forward as he attempts to complete a comeback that he hopes lands him in the starting rotation.
"That was like vintage Colby," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "I can't come up with enough good adjectives to talk about him."
There was plenty for Lewis and the Rangers to be encouraged about. He commanded his fastball well, mixed in some sliders that Maddux said had "bite," kept the ball down and his velocity was 87 to 89 mph. He never found that speed during rehab assignments in Double-A Frisco last season.
"I definitely feel like I probably have some more in there," Lewis said.
It sure looked like Lewis had a more fluid delivery. Maddux termed it "more drive" as he utilized his legs and completed his delivery -- getting on his "back side" as he's talked about. Lewis just went about his business, but there was a confidence there. He knew he was putting the ball where he wanted and getting a little more oomph on the ball than he was as he labored through rehab starts in 2013.
"He was Colby Lewis, the guy I had to face with the Texas Rangers before," said J.P. Arencibia, who caught Lewis. "He can pitch, man. He did it when he was healthy. He competes, battles, was pretty spot on in his location and spins the ball well. His sinker looked good. He'll continue to get better."
Lewis was most pleased that he didn't think about the hip as he threw his pitches. And it didn't run through his mind as he got off the mound to field a bunt as part of the situational hitting at the end of his half-inning. We'll see how his body feels on Wednesday, one day after putting it through the one-inning of work. That's an interesting thing to note because, as Maddux talked about, Lewis is using muscles he hasn't used in a while, so the club will monitor how they react.
Lewis is stressing patience this spring, but his goal remains to be one of the five pitchers in the rotation when camp breaks.
"I expect myself to go out there and perform at a big league level," Lewis said. "I want to go out there and win a job. I don't want to go out there and be overly patient and get put on the back burner and not looked at for a spot in this rotation. I'll compete to win a job, plain and simple."
If he can continue to make progress and pitch like he did Tuesday, he's going to have a chance to do just that.
Other notes from the intrasquad game:
* RHP Joakim Soria gave up two hits, but struck out Joey Gallo on an impressive looping curve ball.
* Maddux said Neftali Feliz still has some room to improve after the closer candidate gave up two runs on three hits in his lone inning. Feliz was slowed early in camp with a sore shoulder.
* Shin-Soo Choo got on base to lead off the bottom of the first on a hit-by-pitch. Choo led the majors in that category last year. It was the sixth pitch Choo saw in the at-bat.