Colby Lewis continues rotation spot quest

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has learned not to put any expectations or boundaries on Colby Lewis.

“Because Colby is a different animal,” Washington said.

But even Washington has been surprised by the fact that Lewis is doing everything this spring. His hip resurfacing is a great unknown, but so far it’s allowed his delivery to become more fluid and to “go downhill more.” The result is a pitcher whose velocity was 87 to 89 mph in an intrasquad game last week, a speed he never approached in rehab starts last season.

If you think Lewis is going to let the early results get him too excited too quickly, then you don’t really know Colby. The laid-back righty knows he has a long way to go.

“I just want to continue down that road and continue to try to stay healthy and try to put myself in a position to win a spot in the rotation,” Lewis said.

While much of the attention Monday is likely to be on Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who will be in uniform and may watch the game from the dugout, Lewis will try to take another step toward his goal of starting the season in the rotation. He throws two innings in his first Cactus League start as he throws pitches to an opposing team for the first time.

“Games are important because I want to get used to the side-to-side motion and the game speed,” Lewis said. “You take PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice) and you get your feet underneath you and you take off. The game-speed stuff, you can’t predict sometimes what’s going to happen.”

Lewis said the biggest adjustment has been making his new mechanics consistent. That’s not easy to do when you all of a sudden can drive your legs and move more than you could before surgery.

“I’m getting downhill more and it’s taking pressure off (the hip), but I can feel it in my arm from pitch to pitch if I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Washington sees a pitcher figuring things out and looking vastly improved from last year.

“He’s been Colby Lewis -- leading,” Washington said. “He’s just been Colby Lewis -- being a pro, not asking for any favors, being a part of everything.”

And hoping to earn a rotation spot.