Zumaya out a couple days after scar tissue broke
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.