ARLINGTON, Texas — Colby Lewis and his surgically repaired hip are staying in the Texas Rangers rotation.
The Rangers on Thursday finalized a $4 million, one-year deal with the 35-year-old right-hander who finished strong last season after his unprecedented hip surgery for a major league pitcher.
Lewis, their most successful postseason pitcher, had surgery in July 2012 to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. His comeback from that was thwarted by the troublesome hip that had bothered him for some time before he had a resurfacing procedure in August 2013 that was just short of a full hip replacement.
"I just feel like it's back to normal. There's no pain, there's no consciously thinking about it," Lewis said. "It kind of came together in the second half. ... I was able to go deeper in ball games, and a lot more quality starts. That's all I want to do this next year."
His return gives the Rangers three expected starters, with Lewis joining Japanese ace Yu Darvish and left-hander Derek Holland.
With baseball's winter meetings upcoming next week, general manager Jon Daniels would like to add another proven starter, through free agency or a trade. The fifth spot will be left open for competition among several young pitchers in the system, some who have already made a number of starts for the Rangers.
Lewis was 10-14 with a 5.18 ERA in 29 starts last season, but had a 3.86 ERA with two complete games while averaging 6 2-3 innings his last 13 starts after the All-Star break last summer.
"You saw what he did in the second half, pretty consistent to what he's always done when he's been here," Daniels said.
Lewis was a first-round supplemental choice of the Rangers during the 1999 draft and made his big league debut in 2002. He pitched for Detroit and Oakland and spent two years in Japan before returning to Texas in 2010. He posted a 3.72 ERA in 32 regular-season starts in his return, and won Game 6 of the AL championship game against the New York Yankees that sent Texas to the first of consecutive World Series. Lewis is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight postseason starts.
"I feel like I've always been a Ranger, even though I've bounced around a little bit," Lewis said. "This is home."
Notes: New manager Jeff Banister had his first meeting with Darvish and watched him work out Thursday. "Got to see some athleticism in a man that got after it pretty good," Banister said. Darvish missed the last seven weeks of the season with inflammation in his right elbow. Darvish had an MRI and an exam by team physician Dr. Keith Meister last week. ... Slugger Prince Fielder played in only 42 games, and none after May 16, in his first season with Texas before a cervical fusion of two disks in his neck. Fielder is now working out five days a week in Orlando. "It's a full workout, it's not a rehab program," Daniels said. Fielder is expected to arrive at spring training in February with no limitations. .... LHP Michael Kirkman has signed a minor league contract that includes an invitation to major league spring training. Kirkman became a free agent after Texas didn't tender him a contract before Tuesday night's deadline.