ARLINGTON -- The Rangers said two things to Colby Lewis on Monday.

They think he can come back from surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow and they know what he has meant to their rise to the top of the American League West.

That's why they signed Lewis to a contract extension through 2013 with $2 million guaranteed and $4 million in incentives that Lewis can earn when he returns to the mound next season.

Team president Nolan Ryan said on KESN-FM (103.3) during his weekly Monday interview that he thinks Lewis can help the Rangers in the second half of the 2013 season.

The Rangers wanted to relieve Lewis of the stress of wondering where he would rehab this offseason while also taking the pressure off of him to feel like he has to rush back.

The club knows that when Lewis is right, he's the winningest postseason pitcher in franchise history with four wins. He's an innings eater -- he went over 200 in 2010 and '11 and was on pace to do it again.

"This is definitely where I wanted to be," Lewis said. "I just didn't know when it was going to come about or if there was going to be any thought behind it or if I was just going to shake hands and thank them for my opportunity here and move on. ... I didn't think about it after I got hurt."

Assistant general manager Thad Levine said he and general manager Jon Daniels started talking about Lewis's status during the recent homestand and about what he must be going through watching his teammates chase another AL West title.

They decided to make him an offer after consulting Ryan. Lewis didn't approach the team, so he was surprised when he heard from his agents.

"Colby is what we're about," Daniels said. "You've seen some of the situations he's stepped into and taken the ball and led by example. Above all, he's been productive."

Lewis, the Rangers' Opening Day starter, made 16 starts this season, his last on July 18. He had surgery on July 27 and his been working with the Rangers' medical staff since then.

He hopes to start forearm exercises soon and start throwing a baseball in January.

Lewis, 33, said he's not going to push himself too hard during the rehab process and said that's been the toughest part about being out.

"I've had to allow myself to have the healing time," Lewis said. "Talking to the doctor, he said I have plenty of time. Let's not go too quick. When I do start to throw, not to push myself too much when I do get on a mound. Kind of play it by the book."