After spending two years in Japan with Hiroshima Carp, I made the right decision by signing with the Rangers this past winter. It's worked out well.
The season had ended in Japan, and I was in the middle of contract negotiations last year when my agent let me know there was interest from Texas. If the Carp had offered the amount of money I was looking for, I would have stayed in Japan.
My agent and the Carp couldn't agree on a new contract that worked for both of us, but there was a clause in my contract that allowed me to come back and play in the United States. My wife and I decided it was time for us to make the move back.
My time in Japan helped me out as a pitcher. I really built my confidence up over there, pitching every four or five days. I was one of their main guys. I was given a lot of opportunity to go out there and pound the strike zone.
So I learned a lot about my pitching style, and I think it's translated well since coming back to the Rangers.
Life circumstance brought me to Japan in the first place. I had a 10-month-old child, and I'd just been taken off Oakland's roster. And even though the Royals had picked me up, I wanted more certainty than competing for a spot in Spring Training, not knowing if I had a job or not.
My agent was talking to the Hiroshima Carp and they presented me with a deal that I didn't think I could pass up. I talked to my wife, and we agreed that the Carp's two-year deal offer was something we wanted because it could provide for our family's well-being.
Up to that point my career I had been bouncing back and forth between some teams. I had opportunities, but I wasn't able to establish myself. I really wasn't able to take advantage of anything.
I knew Spring Training in Japan started two weeks earlier than here so I arrived there, alone, in late January. I wasn't too happy that wives weren't allowed during Spring Training, either. I had to wait six weeks to see my family. Then we just kind of jumped into life in Japan and did our best to adapt to everything.
It helped that the coach of the Carps was an American, Marty Brown. At the time, Alex Ochoa, Mike Schultz, Scott Seabol and Ben Kozlowski were on the roster, too. I had actually played ball with Kozlowski in the U.S., so I had someone familiar on the team.
But the support in Japan was good. The wives also had interpreters. If we ever needed anything, they were really good about helping us out.
Colby Lewis has won nine games and posted a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts for the first-place Rangers this season. Lewis originally broke in with Texas in 2002 and played for the Rangers for parts of three seasons before short stints with the A's and Tigers. He won 10 games for Texas in '03.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.