July 22nd, 2009

Tigers in wait-and-see mode with Zumaya

The Tigers are waiting to see how Joel Zumaya’s injured right shoulder responds in the coming days before deciding whether he can come back in the next couple weeks or undergo season-ending surgery.

Zumaya and team medical officials talked Tuesday with Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedic surgeon who has examined Zumaya over the last year or so. Zumaya didn’t travel for an exam, but the Tigers forwarded test results to Dr. Andrews to review.

The condition is the same as last winter, when he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his shoulder. The sliver of bone hanging from the fracture aggravated his shoulder when he pitched Friday against the Yankees, though head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said it wasn’t as bad as a year ago.

Zumaya said he took two cortisone injections in his shoulder to reduce the swelling and resulting pain. Once the pain is out, they’ll see how he feels throwing and how well he throws, then make a decision from there.

Even if he’s fine, Zumaya said, he expects to have surgery to fix the fracture. The only question is whether he has to have it now or if it can wait until the offseason. The surgery will keep him out around eight weeks, Zumaya said, so to have it now would likely cost him the season, though he would be back in plenty of time to get ready for Spring Training.

If he doesn’t need the surgery yet, he could conceivably have a minimum stay on the 15-day disabled list, which would put him back in action as soon as August 2.

“If we can get [the pain] down in a reasonable enough time, him being not down from throwing for a long period of time, we’ll have a chance then that he wouldn’t down for any length,” Rand said. “Because he is a bullpen guy.”

Zumaya said he started feeling soreness in his shoulder about four weeks ago, but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t major, and he was still able to fire fastballs around 100 mph. Not until Friday, he said, did it really flare up.

He’s still sore now, but a good part of that comes from the initial pain of the cortisone shots. Once that wears off, the Tigers can start figuring out just how well and how comfortably he can throw. If he opts against surgery, he can have one more cortisone surgery at some point this season.

Zumaya, for his part, was upbeat Tuesday, which should be a good sign.

Wednesday: Tigers vs. Mariners

UPDATE @ 7:10: The tarp is now off. Game is expected to start around 7:40. The radar suggests they should be fine the rest of the night now that this storm cell has passed north.

When it does start, Clete Thomas will be batting cleanup for the first time in his career. Jim Leyland weighted the lineup with left-handed hitters against Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who has given up a .305 batting average and .842 OPS to lefties compared with a .241 average against righties.

TIGERS

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. Thomas, RF
  5. Thames, DH
  6. Anderson, LF
  7. Raburn, 3B
  8. Laird, C
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Armando Galarraga

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Russell Branyan, 1B
  3. Jose Lopez, 2B
  4. Ken Griffey, DH
  5. Wladimir Balentien, LF
  6. Ryan Langerhans, CF
  7. Rob Johnson, C
  8. Jack Hannahan, 3B
  9. Ronny Cedeno, SS

P: Felix Hernandez

Inge struggling with left patella tendinitis

Manager Jim Leyland gave third baseman Brandon Inge a night out of the lineup, even though Inge didn’t request it, as a way to give Inge a rest from the patella tendinitis that has been bothering him. But the way it sounds, it’s a problem that could well bother Inge the rest of the year.

Inge said he has been dealing with pain in both of his knees for at the last couple months, starting with soreness early in the season. Recently, he said, the pain has been “excruciating,” and he has felt it in his swing as well as in the field. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Inge has a series of microtears in his left patella tendon, and more minor in the right.

He took a cortisone shot in each leg earlier this summer, but it hasn’t helped substantially. At this point, he said, team doctors are trying to find something that might alleviate the pain with a minimal amount of time missed.

“If they said [you would miss] 15 days and you wouldn’t feel it again and you could come back, I would probably do it,” Inge said.

Anything that requires more time off than that, though, and he’ll probably elect to play through it.

“This year, we’re in the hunt,” Inge said. “We’re playing hard and we feel we have a great chance. How would I come out in a race this close when the fans in Detroit are going through what they’re going through?”

The hope for now, at least on the Tigers’ part, is that having Wednesday allows Inge to feel better playing the day game Thursday, then into Friday’s day-night doubleheader and weekend series against the White Sox.

“In my opinion, I’ll probably be playing with this the rest of the year,” Inge said. “That’s just my gut feeling.”

Bonine to start Game 2 Friday

The Tigers will call up Eddie Bonine from Triple-A Toledo to make the spot start in the second game of Friday’s day-night doubleheader against the White Sox. He was the one candidate who stood out among the Tigers’ options at Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie, and he was on schedule to start for the Mud Hens on Friday. Most likely, the roster move will come between games Friday.

In case you missed it, here’s the story from Monday on how Bonine has gotten back to pitching after his mom lost her battle with breast cancer last month.

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