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 Zumaya goes on DL with injured elbow

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PostSubject: Zumaya goes on DL with injured elbow   Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:47 pm

Zumaya goes on DL with injured elbow
Tigers reliever left game against Twins in obvious pain

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

06/29/10 10:20 AM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Casey Fien bounced between the Tigers, Red Sox and Blue Jays this spring before landing back in the Tigers system. He's now back in the big leagues with the Tigers, who purchased his contract from Triple-A Toledo Tuesday morning to replace injured Joel Zumaya.

Zumaya went on the 15-day disabled list after he hurt his right elbow in a horrific scene on the mound Monday night at Target Field. How long Zumaya will be out should become a little clearer later today once the Tigers review results of an MRI exam taken this morning at a local hospital.

Fien is expected to arrive from Detroit Metro Airport in time for tonight's game, which could be critical. Not only are the Tigers without Zumaya, but also closer Jose Valverde for the upcoming game. Valverde came on for a five-out save once Zumaya left, and manager Jim Leyland said afterward that he won't use Valverde pm Tuesday under any circumstances.

Add it all up, and the Tigers badly need Fien. That's an ironic twist from Spring Training, when the Tigers felt they had enough of a bullpen surplus on their roster that they took him off the 40-man roster to make room for Johnny Damon.

That began Fien on an adventure up and down the Grapefruit League. Detroit designated Fien for assignment Feb. 23 in hopes of outrighting him to Toledo, but Boston claimed him March 1. No sooner had Fien arrived in Red Sox camp than the Red Sox tried to sneak him through waivers. Toronto claimed him on March 4.

Fien, who never took part in a workout with the Red Sox, packed up again and moved to Blue Jays camp. Two weeks later, however, Toronto released him.

The Tigers, who never really wanted to lose him in the first place, immediately had interest in bringing him back. A day later, they signed him to a Minor League deal.

Fien went to Toledo and became a valuable late-inning arm for the Mud Hens, posting a 2.29 ERA and three saves in 26 games while scattering 32 hits over 39 1/3 innings with six walks and 27 strikeouts. International League opponents were batting .222 against him, including a .207 average from right-handed hitters.

Meanwhile, the bullpen depth that the Tigers seemed to have when they took Fien off the 40-man roster in Spring Training has just about disappeared. Detroit lost Bobby Seay and Zach Miner to injuries in Spring Training. Miner underwent Tommy John surgery a few weeks ago, while Seay's career is in danger as he weighs surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

Ryan Perry's shoulder tendinitis earlier this month landed him on the DL and moved Zumaya back into a major eighth-inning role. Perry would've been a option to replace Zumaya, but he's still on a Minor League rehab assignment with Toledo, where he's scheduled to pitch Tuesday night. Promising left-hander Daniel Schlereth, part of the return package in the Edwin Jackson trade last December, has battled command in Toledo, walking 26 batters over 34 innings despite 44 strikeouts.

Homegrown relief prospect Cody Satterwhite underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last month. Fellow prospect Robbie Weinhardt, who made a big impression on Tigers coaches in Spring Training, tore a shoulder muscle earlier this season and is currently on rehab assignment at short-season Class A Connecticut. Even former sidearming reliever Brett Jensen abruptly retired to pursue a career outside of baseball.

Thus, back comes Fien, who pitched in nine games over two different stints with Detroit last year. He gave up 10 earned runs on 13 hits over 11 1/3 innings with six walks and nine strikeouts. Five of those appearances came as a September call-up in Tigers losses, including a pair of three-inning outings to save the rest of the bullpen.

He isn't likely to be used like that now. With the state of the Tigers bullpen, every reliever is going to be valuable to protect leads behind Valverde. Left-hander Phil Coke is expected to take on an even bigger role in setup duty against left- and right-handed hitters alike. Knuckleballing right-hander Eddie Bonine has seen increased use in close games lately, well before Zumaya's injury.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Zumaya goes on DL with injured elbow   Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:26 pm

Zumaya out for season with fractured elbow
Tigers reliever left game against Twins in obvious pain

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

06/29/10 2:30 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya will miss the rest of the season with what the team called a non-displaced fracture of the olecranon, a bone at the tip of his right elbow.

An MRI exam and X-rays taken at a local hospital revealed the injury, which he suffered on an eighth-inning pitch Monday night against the Twins at Target Field. Zumaya grabbed at his elbow and eventually collapsed in pain behind the mound before the Tigers athletic training staff helped him off the field.

It'll mean a fourth straight injury-shortened season for Zumaya, whose struggles to come back and regain his form as baseball's hardest-throwing reliever have been going on since he was a rookie sensation in the Tigers' run to the American League pennant in 2006.

A 99 mph fastball to Delmon Young in the eighth inning of the Tigers' 7-5 win over the Twins sent Zumaya clutching his right elbow and shaking his hand. Suddenly, as if the pain suddenly hit him, he knelt to the ground in apparent agony.

Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand rushed to the mound, followed by manager Jim Leyland, to attend to Zumaya, who had tears in his eyes. And for several minutes, one of baseball's most intimidating men was helpless on the ground as trainers tried to get him in as comfortable a position as possible to take off the field and into the training room.

Zumaya eventually walked off the field on his own power, clutching his arm against his body with help from Rand and assistant athletic trainer Steve Carter.

"It just breaks your heart," manager Jim Leyland said after the game. "I'm sick. I'm sick to my stomach. It's just the grind of the game. Like I've said forever, every pitcher that's ever pitched a game is one pitch away from his last one."

Leyland didn't want to assume a worst-case scenario, but most everyone who saw the injury feared a season-ending injury at the least.

"I feel terrible," said Jeremy Bonderman, a teammate of Zumaya since 2006. "I've been through rehab, and I know what he's been through. It definitely looks like he's headed down the path of rehab. It's a bad scene, man. You feel for the guy, and you just hope he comes back to be the guy he used to be."

Zumaya was enjoying what was setting up to be his first healthy season since 2006, when he was one of baseball's best rookie relievers and overpowered the American League with his 100 mph fastball to become one of baseball's best setup men. A series of injuries have derailed his career ascension since.

Zumaya missed about half the 2007 season after dislocating his right middle finger while warming up in the bullpen at Kansas City. He made it back for the stretch run of a playoff race, but suffered a more severe injury when he dislocated the AC joint in his shoulder that October in an accident at his family's home in San Diego.

Zumaya pitched in just 21 games in 2008 before being shut down with a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. After consulting with noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews, he rehabbed without surgery and made it back for 29 games last year before a bone shard in the same shoulder forced him to undergo surgery after all.

Zumaya pitched in 62 games as a rookie in 2006. He hadn't pitched in 30 games in a season since then until he pitched Saturday at Atlanta. Monday night was his 31st of the season.

If there's any good news out of the diagnosis, it's that Zumaya didn't suffer any ligament tears. That will likely prove little consolation for the 25-year-old, entered the night with a 2-1 record and 2.63 ERA, having struck out 34 batters over 37 2/3 innings.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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