December 2nd, 2009
I know every rehab update on Joel Zumaya has to be taken cautiously, since another injury could be ahead. But even with that in the mind, the news coming from the Tigers is surprisingly good.
Zumaya, who had season-ending surgery this past summer to remove a bone shard from the stress fracture in his right shoulder, has progressed well enough throwingwise that he basically will be working out normally for the rest of the offseason rather than just rehabbing.
That doesn’t mean he’ll have a normal throwing program the rest of the winter, but for the first time in a few years, he gets to focus part of his offseason on strength and conditioning.
“Everything went well,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. “He did a prethrowing program and then played catch up to 90 feet. As a result, we’re at a point where we’ve assimilated him into the normal strength and conditioning program.”
He’ll pick up his throwing program again once he reports to Spring Training early. That part isn’t new, but the fact that he finished up most of his rehab program early — it began late in the season, after all — is perceived as a good development.
That doesn’t mean he’s all clear and counted on to be a big part of the Tigers bullpen just yet. He has to prove he can stay healthy. It would be a surprise if his health impacted the Tigers’ dealings, at least at this point of the offseason. Still, this is better than most years.
There’s interest building among teams with free-agent reliever J.J. Putz, according to reports. The Phillies, Pirates and Astros are among the clubs that have inquired about him, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. But while the Tigers have been listed among teams that could fit as the offseason rolls along, there have been no discussions as of earlier this week.