Just when it began to appear that the Rangers would begin to get healhier on the injury front, yet another blow has been dealt, this time derailing the season of Colby Lewis before he even made it back to the Major Leagues.
Lewis will have right hip surgery to remove bone spurs, and won't be able to return to normal activity for two months. Last season, it was a torn flexor tendon that ended his season, but the hip had been a concern before then.
Lost in the news since it broke in February 2012 is the fact that Lewis suffers from a degenerative hip condition, one that has prevented him from being able to get off the mound quickly to field, and at times, has seemingly affected his ability to pitch effectively. It was something that was worrisome in 2011, as his production seemed to drop off, but was quickly forgotten as he was superb in the playoffs. Yet, according to Evan Grant, Ron Washington indeed confirmed the issue with Lewis's hip in February of 2012.
Washington, however, acknowledged significant improvement from Colby Lewis, the team’s most significant offender the last two years, may not be possible. Lewis, who battles a degenerative hip condition, has made nine errors over the last two seasons. It is tied with A.J. Burnett for the highest in the majors.
Washington said Lewis’ condition keeps him from being able to field the ball, turn and fire to first in optimal fashion. The hip also prevents Lewis from getting off the mound very quickly, which can then force him to hurry his throw.
In other words, this was something that was always a possibility, and the fact that it has indeed gotten worse leads me to believe we may have seen the last of Colby Lewis in a Rangers uniform. I sincerely hope that's not the case, but degenerative hips don't heal overnight. Lewis has spent a great deal of time rehabbing as of late, which is why I fully expect that he'll try to give another shot to pitching in the Majors, but I can't see it being with the Rangers unless they decide to take a low-risk flier on him, Brandon Webb style.
In the short-term, this affects the long-suspected plan to move Lewis into Alexi Ogando's spot in the starting rotation. Ogando has struggled for much of the season with his fastball command, and as a starter this season, has left much to be desired. Now, it looks like the Rangers will have to roll with him for the forseeable future until either Matt Harrison or Neftali Feliz are ready to go, and I'm not sure we can count on Feliz being anything more than a late-season bullpen piece this year.
The sky isn't falling, but it doesn't appear the injury bug will give way anytime soon, and if this team manages to make a decent run, it could very well be one of this franchise's greatest accomplishments given the amount of bad fortune that has found its way to Arlington as of late.