March 2nd, 2011
Joel Zumaya’s comeback from elbow surgery is on hold for a couple days, but it isn’t expected to be a major absence. The Tigers reliever is day-to-day after scar tissue broke apart around his elbow.
Zumaya said the injury happened in the middle of his inning of work Sunday against the Blue Jays. He felt the tissue snap on a two-out pitch to Jose Molina, who singled to extend the fifth inning, but stayed in the game and threw his normal arsenal to retire Moises Sierra.
“Just a little scar tissue,” Zumaya said. “They’re just going to give me a couple days.”
An MRI exam and x-rays confirmed the diagnosis. The tests were precautionary, as the scar tissue was expected to break apart at some point.
“We checked it out medically,” Leyland said, “and there was nothing more than a little inflammation. I’m not sure when he’s going to pitch, but there were absolutely no red flags whatsoever.”
Zumaya missed the final three months last season after fracturing the olecranon bone of his right elbow on a late June pitch at Minnesota. Ensuing surgery inserted a screw around the fracture to ensure healing. The scar tissue that broke was around the screw.
“I don’t think that’s uncommon at all,” Leyland said. “According to the trainers, that’s not uncommon. But who knows?”
Still, any absence for Zumaya creates concern, which might be why Leyland hesitated briefly before mentioning it. The hard-throwing reliever has missed much of the past four seasons since his standout rookie campaign in 2006 established him as a young reliever to watch.
Zumaya is a free agent next winter, which makes this a big season for him. If he can get through anywhere close to a full year, he could help the Tigers to a big season as well, adding a potentially nasty reliever behind setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde.
This marks Zumaya’s first absence of any kind this spring. His pitching so far has been strong. One radar gun tabbed him at 97 mph Sunday with his fastball, which he said he threw without full effort while mixing in several breaking balls.
The Tigers reached agreements on contracts for the final five unsigned players on their 40-man roster Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Ryan Perry, Alex Avila, Don Kelly, Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson.
Wednesday was essentially the deadline for getting a deal done. It’s the first day teams can unilaterally renew contracts for players on their roster. The Tigers haven’t had to do that for a few years, and while they had a handful of players who went down to the final day, they avoided it again.
Avila, Boesch and Jackson were all rookies last season. Perry and Kelly are a year away from arbitration.
It’s a split-squad game for the Astros today, so we’ll see the roster they bring over. For the Tigers, though, you’re getting closer to what an Opening Day roster might look like. Cabrera will get his first game at first base this spring, while Victor Martinez settles into the DH spot. Other than left field and second base, this looks like a regular-season kind of lineup.
In the field, at first base, should really be where we should get a better idea how Cabrera’s size (270 pounds, but supposedly lower body fat percentage) plays into flexibility. Running the bases is one thing (and really, he only did that on the three-run double yesterday), but having to make quick movements and change direction in the field is another.
Reminder that today’s game is on MLB Gameday Audio (or MLB At-Bat on your phone or ipad)
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Casper Wells, LF (he didn’t play yesterday, so he’s due for playing time)
- Magglio Ordonez, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Victor Martinez, DH
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Brandon Inge, 3B
- Danny Worth, 2B
- Alex Avila, C
P: Phil Coke, Duane Below, Joaquin Benoit, Jose Valverde