Zumaya bounces back with heat
Joel Zumaya couldn’t hold down solid food for two days, could barely get up to throw and play catch. He felt badly enough that he was miserable. He looked bad enough that the Tigers medical staff sent him home from camp on back-to-back days so that he wouldn’t spread whatever he had to the rest of the clubhouse.
Ideally, Jim Leyland might’ve preferred to give Zumaya a day to build up his strength before sending him to the mound again, but he has to get Zumaya innings to get him ready for the season. So out goes Zumaya to the mound, still not looking all that healthy.
And then comes his first pitch in at 101 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun. The next two come in at 100 each.
More impressive to Zumaya, his last pitch was a breaking ball to strike out Randy Ruiz.
“That’s what they want me to work at,” Zumaya said afterwards, “and that was a pretty dang good curveball.”
Zumaya said he felt like he had to show the Tigers that he’s going to be ready for the start of the season, which is why he was glad to come out firing triple-digit fastballs. But he also admitted he needed the confidence boost of a good outing. He was struggling a bit before he fell ill, and he was working with coaches on tweaking his delivery to help his fastball.
The best way to make his fastball work better on Thursday was to work in the breaking ball.
“That’s a big confidence boost for me,” Zumaya said. “I needed this one.”
Other tidbits …
- No follow-up word was available on the status Clete Thomas, who left Thursday’s afternoon game with a bruised right shoulder blade a couple innings after being hit there by a pitch. Leyland said Thomas couldn’t throw once the swelling settled in.
- Don Kelly amazingly stayed in that same game despite a collision with first baseman Randy Ruiz, but he was hurting a little bit after the game too. He said he took the worst contact on the inside of his left knee. He was able to play through it, but he wasn’t sure how it was going to feel once he cooled down and wasn’t moving around later.