FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joel Zumaya wanted to show the Minnesota Twins he was OK this spring, hoping to bring the kind of heat that made him so promising before a long list of injuries derailed his career.
His latest comeback attempt took a worrisome turn Saturday not long after it started.
A few minutes after he started throwing to hitters for the first time this spring, Zumaya walked off the mound in a mixture of pain and frustration. He declined to speak to reporters, but Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the reliever injured the inside of his elbow. He was scheduled to get an MRI exam on Sunday to determine the severity of the injury.
“Anytime a guy gets an MRI there’s got to be concern,” Ryan said. “But I’m not going to overreact until the results come out. Let’s hope it’s not something serious. … It’d be a little less concerning if we didn’t have the history of what he’s experienced in his career.”
Zumaya has not pitched since he broke his right elbow while throwing a pitch for the Detroit Tigers on June 28, 2010.
He was a critical, but risky, offseason addition for a Twins team whose bullpen was beaten up in 2011. Minnesota hedged its bet by giving Zumaya an incentive-loaded, one-year deal with an $850,000 base salary.
Now Zumaya and his new team will have to wait to see how much of that one year he’ll get to play.
Any injury would be another frustrating setback for Zumaya, who has battled them for nearly his entire career while pitching in only 171 games through six seasons.
Zumaya made a grand entrance into the majors in 2006, jumping from an inexperienced arm in camp to a regular and a fan favorite renowned for regularly topping 100 mph on the radar gun.
But soon he was making news as much for bizarre injuries as for his blazing fastball. In that year’s ALCS, he had inflammation in his wrist that his general manager, Dave Dombrowski, mused might have come from excessive playing of Guitar Hero.
The next year, Zumaya ruptured a tendon in his throwing finger. Then came he separated his shoulder while trying to rescue some of his father’s personal items before a wildfire reached his house.
If Zumaya is sidelined for a while again, Minnesota has options. The Twins brought 33 pitchers to camp, many of whom were specifically invited to compete for bullpen spots.
Glen Perkins and Matt Capps seem to have the setup and closer roles nailed down. Ryan said he’s looking to 2011 starter Brian Duensing, former Reds veteran Jared Burton and holdovers Anthony Swarzak and Alex Burnett to step up.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
Zumaya to have an MRI on troublesome elbow
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