Results tagged ‘ Joel Zumaya ’

Zumaya agrees to deal with Twins

The Tigers could end up seeing a lot of Joel Zumaya this year after all. It’ll just be in a different uniform, albeit an awfully familiar one.

After throwing for teams in December and holding out for a roster spot and the right situation, Zumaya has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Twins, the reliever told MLB.com. The two sides spent Saturday putting together a deal that could pay him anywhere from $800,000 to $1.7 million if he reaches incentives.

Update: Not all of the base salary is guaranteed, a fact first reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. If the Twins decide to part in Spring Training, they’d owe him half of the $800,000 base salary. Thanks to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for pointing out the partial guarantee.

A Twins official would neither confirm nor deny the deal to MLB.com, but said they’ve been in negotiations since December.

Zumaya weighed what he called “good offers” from three other clubs,  but the Twins included guaranteed money rather than a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite. If he’s healthy, they’ll bring him to the same mound at Target Field where he last threw a Major League pitch. He fractured his elbow throwing for the Tigers against the Twins on June 28, 2010.

As it turns out, that was his last appearance as a Tiger. Though the Tigers had an offer out to him for a minor-league contract with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training, they made it clear they weren’t going to guarantee him a spot. Zumaya told MLB.com in November he was most likely moving on, and in the end, the Tigers were not on his short list.

Zumaya joins a Twins bullpen in transition after Joe Nathan left for the Rangers earlier in the offseason. Minnesota re-signed Matt Capps at closer and returns Glen Perkins coming off an impressive season of middle and late-inning work, but while Perkins blossomed into a high-strikeout lefty last year, the Twins haven’t had a truly overpowering reliever in a while.

If Zumaya’s healthy, he has that potential. Though he hasn’t topped 32 games or 40 innings in a season since his impressive rookie season of 2006, he has been an effective reliever when he hasn’t been hurt. He was showing flashes of his old form in 2010 before he was hurt, striking out 34 batters over 38 1/3 innings while allowing 32 hits and posting a 2.58 ERA.

Zumaya underwent surgery after that July injury to repair a fractured bone at the tip of his elbow, a procedure that included inserting a screw to hold the elbow together. He had to undergo a follow-up surgery to replace the screw after complaining of elbow pain last Spring Training.

The surgery cost Zumaya the entire 2011 season. He threw for reportedly up to 20 interested teams last month and reportedly hit the mid-90s on the radar gun. Since then, Zumaya and his agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, have been negotiating with clubs, trying to land him a Major League contract in a situation where he could fit into a good bullpen role. The Red Sox made a hard push early on.

The Twins have a Spring Training game against the Tigers in Lakeland on March 21 before they meet for 18 regular-season matchups, beginning with a two-game series at Comerica Park May 16-17.

Dombrowski: Tigers aren’t shopping Turner, not talking starters

Though the Tigers have been linked in rumors with talks on Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Detroit has no trade talks ongoing on any starting pitchers.

And while Dombrowski won’t call any of his top prospects untouchable, a term he rarely uses on anybody, he had it clear they aren’t looking to deal Jacob Turner. That doesn’t mean Turner isn’t available for the right deal, but it indicates they aren’t going out and shopping him for a veteran starter.

At this point, Dombrowski said, the Tigers haven’t reversed course on their plans to go after a fifth starter to compete with prospects such as Turner, Drew Smyly and Andy Oliver.

“Our plan hasn’t changed,” Dombrowski said. “We’re in a situation where we really have been consistent all along. We like our young guys. We feel that one of them will step up and be our fifth starter. Somehow [our approach] has been mistaken.”

Dombrowski said the Tigers have not called about any starting pitchers on the trade market. Any conversations on veterans starters, he said, have been initiated by other club.

“We are not looking,” he said. “There are some guys that are out there and are very good and clubs haved called us about them. But we have four veteran starters, and sometimes you have to break in young pitching.”

They’ll still listen, he said, but they’re not looking. And the inquiries that have been made, he said, haven’t gone far.

“Probably the only guy we had serious conversations on was Gio Gonzalez,” he said, “and we just weren’t prepared to pay the price. Other than that, we really haven’t talked about a starting pitcher.”

Dombrowski also said Al Alburquerque’s recent elbow surgery won’t put them in the market for another reliever. They signed Octavio Dotel knowing that Alburquerque was dealing with off and on injuries. Dombrowski didn’t rule out re-signing Joel Zumaya if he accepts a minor-league contract, but that nothing has changed on that front either.

Dotel reportedly confirms interest from Tigers

Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes talked with reliever Octavio Dotel, who confirmed interest from the Tigers, as well as the Cardinals, Brewers and Mets. Dotel apparently told Rojas he’s interested in returning to the Cards, whom he said have offered him a one-year contract. He would like a two-year offer.

Dotel is 38 years old. A two-year offer could be an interesting risk for a team. For the Tigers, it could be increasingly so, given that Jose Valverde will be a free agent next winter and Joaquin Benoit will be going into his contract year at that point. What the Tigers bullpen looks like then could be interesting.

Keep in mind, too, that Joel Zumaya is still out there. He’s going to throw for scouts Dec. 14, and his agents believe they can get as many as 20 teams watching him.

Zumaya to throw for teams mid-December

In case you missed it, I wrote an article for the site today about Joel Zumaya and the decision he faces as a first-time free agent after five injury-shortened seasons: Stick with the only team he’s known and the team that knows his medical history, or get a fresh start somewhere else where his injury history won’t be such an overriding theme. As the story shows, it’s not an easy choice for him.

At this point, Zumaya is looking around to see what’s out there. He’s going to throw a bullpen session for teams on or around Dec. 14 in Houston, where his agents are based. About 10 teams have expressed some interest in taking a look, he said, including the Red Sox, who expressed interest soon after he became a free agent a month ago.

The Tigers may or may not have somebody there, but they already know his history and his rehab from this fall. One 30-pitch session isn’t going to give them anything they don’t already know.

Zumaya to have exploratory surgery after all

Joel Zumaya’s 2011 season sounds likely over before it ever began. The Tigers announced that the hard-throwing, but injury-riddled reliever will undergo exploratory surgery next Tuesday to determine what is ailing in his right elbow.

The move is expected to sideline him for the rest of the season. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand put Zumaya’s chances of pitching this year at “doubtful.”

The decision, Rand said, was Zumaya’s call. He phoned Rand a couple days ago to let him know he wasn’t feeling any improvement at all in the elbow over the last two weeks. The plan was to have him rest and rehab for six weeks before checking on how he felt.

It was the second time they were trying rest and rehab, and it basically one last shot to try to avoid surgery. But even last time, which didn’t work, Zumaya’s elbow supposedly felt better a week into it. Not this time.

“This time, he doesn’t feel any different than he did two weeks ago,” Rand said.

If Zumaya doesn’t return this summer, his 2011 season will have consisted of an encouraging preseason rehab and one Spring Training outing, during which his elbow flared up. He underwent season-ending surgery last summer to repair a fractured bone at the tip of his elbow, but hasn’t thrown off a mound since that Spring Training appearance Feb. 27.

Multiple MRI exams and other tests have shown no major structural damage in his elbow, but the pain pops back up when he tries to throw. The surgery, which Dr. James Andrews will conduct at his office in Pensacola, Fla., will figure that out once and for all.

If he doesn’t return this season, his last pitch as a Tiger might well be that fateful delivery on the mound in Minnesota last June, when his crumbled to the ground in pain with the fracture.

Zumaya is eligible for free agency this winter. His hope was that a strong 2011 season would vault him into a strong position on a reliever market that yielded big contracts for setup men in recent years. What happens with him this winter is unclear.

It’s an incredible position for someone who looked like one of baseball’s best young relievers when he broke into the Majors as a rookie in 2006. His 6-3 record, 1.94 ERA and 97 strikeouts over 83 1/3 innings played a major role in Detroit’s surprise run to the World Series that year.

Zumaya pitched in 62 games that year. He has pitched in 109 games over the last five years combined as injuries took their toll. Each time, he came back with the same 100 mph fastball. But each time, a different injury would sideline him — a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger in 2007, a damage AC joint that required reconstructive surgery that winter, a stress fracture in his shoulder in 2008 and 2009, and the elbow last year. His 31 appearances in 2010 marked his highest total since his rookie year.

The Tigers prepared themselves for not having Zumaya last winter, signing free agent Joaquin Benoit to a three-year contract and guaranteeing a contract for high-strikeout minor leaguer Al Alburquerque out of winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

No nerve damage for Zumaya, but still no diagnosis

The good news for Joel Zumaya is that there’s no nerve damage in his right arm. The bad news is that there’s still no firm diagnosis what exactly is causing the trouble that has him again shut down from throwing.

Zumaya had another visit Monday with noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who conducted another battery of tests. This time, however, they added a nerve conduction study. Like all the other tests, it came up with nothing glaring.

“Nothing really jumped out at us any more than what we had already determined,” Rand said.

The test results are being forwarded to Tigers team physician Dr. Stephen Lemos. He’ll look them over and then join in on a conference call Wednesday with Andrews, Rand, Zumaya and one of his agents. Together, they’re going to decide whether it’s better for Zumaya to go through the strengthening and rehab process again or go with a diagnostic arthroscopic surgery.

The rehab process without surgery would probably take another six weeks. The surgery would knock him out for longer, but they might get to the bottom of the issue.

Zumaya moved to 60-day disabled list

Joel Zumaya’s latest visit with Dr. James Andrews is scheduled for today, but the Tigers got the procedural portion of his injury out of the way already by transferring the hard-throwing but oft-injured right-hander from the 15- to 60-day disabled list.

For practical purposes, the DL move doesn’t mean much, other than to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Even if Zumaya was pain-free and cleared to begin throwing again tomorrow, he’d still be at least a couple weeks away from throwing in games, then would face a minor league rehab assignment. That would likely take him well into May anyway. Now that he’s on the 60-day DL, the earliest he can be activated is around the end of May.

For personnel purposes, the move opens up a 40-man roster spot, meaning Detroit now has the room to call up a non-roster guy if they so choose. Probably not a harbinger of anything quite yet, but good to know.

Zumaya could begin throwing next week

The Tigers left Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya behind as they departed Lakeland Tuesday morning, but there’s some renewed hope that he’ll be back in a reasonable amount of time. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Zumaya is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday in hopes of being cleared to resume throwing.

The plan when Dr. Andrews prescribed a couple weeks of rest was that Zumaya would see the good doctor again before throwing again, once the inflammation subsided. Three weeks have passed, but the Tigers have made it a point to play it cautious on their hard-throwing setup man.

Zumaya continues to work on a strengthening program back in Lakeland.

“He’s doing very well,” Rand said of Zumaya. “His range of motion has improved. His strength has improved.”

Zumaya hasn’t thrown off a mound since his only Spring Training outing Feb. 27, so he’s going to have to go through the throwing progression (play catch, long toss, bullpen sessions) before getting back into game action, either in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment.

Still, given the way Leyland has mentioned the challenge of replacing Zumaya in the bullpen, the sooner they can get him back, the better. Even if they didn’t take for granted he’d be back, losing him for the start of the season made a big difference in the makeup of the bullpen. Replace, say, Brayan Villarreal with Zumaya, and the seventh inning looks vastly different.

Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday morning that Zumaya and Guillen will be officially placed on the disabled list Wednesday. They’re expected to go on the 15-day DL, rather than the 60-day version. They’ll also make room on the 40-man roster Wednesday for Enrique Gonzalez, who made the team as a reliever after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.

Zumaya, Guillen formally ruled out for opener

Not breaking news by any stretch, long suspected, but now pretty much official: Joel Zumaya and Carlos Guillen will not be ready for Opening Day. Manager Jim Leyland made that announcement this morning.

Earlier Tuesday morning, Guillen confirmed his left knee has been sore for the past few days. It was better today, but still not completely clear. There was something going on in the back of his leg, he said, but it wasn’t the knee injury.

Zumaya said Tuesday morning that he’s feeling improvement in his elbow. Still, they’re most likely going to give him to full the full two weeks before trying to get him throwing again.

Both Zumaya and Guillen will stay back here after the Tigers head north. They’ll be part of extended Spring Training and open the season on the disabled list.

By stating the expected now rather than later, the Tigers not only end the speculation, they head off any risk of one of them trying to rush back to action and re-injuring himself. Neither of them sounded likely to rush, having been through enough injuries and re-injuries the last few years to know better.

Zumaya relieved, also a little concerned

Just talked with Joel Zumaya, who said he’s in relatively good spirits after the diagnosis from Dr. James Andrews yesterday in Birmingham, Ala. He’s relieved that there was no structural damage found after an MRI, a dye injection, a CAT scan and x-rays. But he admitted there “some concern” that they haven’t been able to pinpoint what’s causing the inflammation in his elbow.

“We’re still trying to trigger what’s causing it,” Zumaya said this morning. “Initially, they thought it was scar tissue.”

Part of the problem figuring it out is that they need to get the swelling down more.

The timetable is a little longer than what was initially reported. Zumaya said he was advised not to throw for two weeks, which he’ll follow. He’s going on a strengthening program for the next couple weeks, and they’ll check him out after that. If he’s still having problems, they’re going to go back.

What that means for his readiness for Opening Day, while nothing official, obviously isn’t good.

“I don’t really know, man,” he said. “It’s already seeming to me like I’m not going to be there.”

But if he has to miss the first couple weeks or so to get his arm right and give himself the best chance at pitching the rest of the season, he’ll take it.

“I’m not even worried about it. It could be a lot worse,” Zumaya said. “I could be ticked off. I could be not talking to you guys. But I’m really positive. They say it’s a little hump you have to get over.”

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