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01/14/10 5:27 PM EST

Rangers agree to terms with righty Lewis

Former Rangers Draft pick returns with shot at rotation spot

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have reached a preliminary agreement with free-agent right-handed pitcher Colby Lewis on a two-year contract, according to industry sources.

Lewis, 30, will join the Rangers with a chance to compete for a spot in their rotation. Based on outstanding numbers he put up in Japan the past two seasons, his chances of making the Rangers rotation are pretty strong.

His walk-to-strikeout ratio in Japan was outstanding. Lewis, pitching for the Hiroshima Carp, was 15-8 with a 2.68 ERA in 2008. In 178 innings pitched, Lewis allowed 151 hits and 27 walks while striking out 183.

He followed that up by going 11-9 with a 2.96 ERA in '09. He pitched 176 innings, allowing 156 hits and 19 walks while striking out 186.

The agreement is pending a physical but there are other wrinkles that need to be worked out before the deal is officially announced.

Scott Feldman and Rich Harden right now are the only two pitchers guaranteed spots in the rotation. Lewis will compete for one of the three remaining spots from a group that also includes left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and right-handers Brandon McCarthy and Tommy Hunter.

Lewis was originally taken by the Rangers as the 38th overall pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft out of Bakersfield Junior College. Kip Fagg, who is now the Rangers' head of amateur scouting, was the original scout who signed Lewis.

Lewis made the Rangers out of Spring Training in 2002 and was 1-3 with a 6.29 ERA in four starts and 11 relief appearances while splitting time between Texas and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

In '03, Lewis was 10-9 with a 7.30 ERA in 26 starts for the Rangers. That's the fourth-highest ERA posted by a pitcher with at least 25 starts in Major League history and the highest by a Rangers pitcher.

The following season, Lewis made just three starts and was 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA before missing the rest of the season because of shoulder surgery. The Tigers acquired him off outright waivers after the season.

Lewis spent two seasons in the Tigers' organization and pitched in just two games at the Major League level. In '07, he pitched in 26 games for the Athletics, going 0-2 with a 6.45 ERA, before heading off for Japan for two years.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.