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Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted

Posted on: July 18, 2009 2:57 pm
 
NEW YORK -- He was 21 years old, and he threw 100 mph.

Sometimes 101.

In that summer of 2006, Joel Zumaya was the most exciting setup man in baseball. Everybody was talking about him. Everybody wanted to see him.

And every time the scoreboard lit up with the magical triple digits, everyone in every ballpark he visited reacted with an "ooooh!"

Now it's three years later. Zumaya is still just 24 years old. He's back on the disabled list, for the fifth time in the last three years.

There are even fears his career could be over.

The Tigers weren't saying much on Saturday, as they waited for the results of tests on Zumaya's right shoulder. But he told reporters after Friday night's game that he heard a pop as he threw a pitch, and the fear is that his shoulder is right back to where it was when he needed AC reconstruction surgery on Halloween day in 2007.
"It's just heartbreaking to see," said Tigers bullpen coach Jeff Jones, who has become close with Zumaya. "Hopefully, this is nothing, and he'll be back. But right now, this hurts all of us."

Zumaya isn't as popular with Tiger fans as he once was. He had been struggling before he hurt his shoulder Friday night, to the point where manager Jim Leyland said he planned to flip-flop Zumaya with Brandon Lyon, using Zumaya in the seventh inning and Lyon in the eighth.

Still, in the Tiger clubhouse, where Zumaya's teammates and coaches have seen what he has been through the last three years, this latest injury hit hard.

"I'm concerned for the kid," Leyland said. "This has been a nightmare for this kid for 2-3 years. You obviously feel bad for him, because you're talking about a career. But I don't know. For all I know, he could be back pitching in two weeks, or he could miss the rest of the year.

"You hope it's just another setback. But he's had a lot of them."

Zumaya was on the disabled list three times in four minor-league seasons, but those setbacks were minor. He was healthy all through 2006, when he had a 1.94 ERA and helped carry the Tigers to the World Series.

Since then, it's been almost nothing but bad news.

He was warming up in the bullpen in Kansas City in early May of 2007, when he felt a pop in his right middle finger. It turned out to be a tear that required surgery.

That October, Zumaya was home in San Diego, worrying about wildfires in the area and preparing to possibly evacuate his house. A box fell on his shoulder, causing major damage that required surgery. At the time, doctors told him that no pitcher had ever come back from that injury.

Zumaya did come back. This summer, he was again throwing harder than any pitcher in baseball, shocking some medical people.

And yet it didn't last.

The Tigers say there was no sign of anything wrong until Friday. Really, they say, there wasn't anything wrong until several pitches after Mark Teixeira's three-run home run.

Leyland said Zumaya's arm slot has been different this year -- he was less over-the-top than pre-surgery -- but Leyland and everyone else with the Tigers said there was no sign of any pain.

They hope the sharp pain Zumaya felt Friday was just the result of scar tissue breaking up, but the fear is that it's something far worse.

The real fear is that Zumaya could be done, for this year or maybe for good, and that all we'll be left with are the memories.
Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 8:44 pm
 

Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 15, 2012 9:19 am
 

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 31, 2011 10:20 am
 

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 24, 2011 10:32 am
 

Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 10:05 am
 

Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 4:02 am
 

Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted




Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 4, 2011 9:17 am
 

Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted



Tomly
Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 6:26 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Mar 15, 2008
Posted on: July 19, 2009 6:26 am
 

Zumaya: It was magical while it lasted

Did you read the same story I did?  It really had nothing to do with whether or not Zumaya is a great pitcher.  It said he had one good season and then mostly has been on the DL...

Things get boring in the Dakotas?




Since: Feb 5, 2009
Posted on: July 18, 2009 8:10 pm
 

Need more than heat to win in the majors

Zumaya's story just shows that you need a hell of a lot more than a 100 mph fastball to win in the majors.

Arm slot different?  Who cares, he was still throwing 100, and still didn't have much of an idea where it was going.  When he was controlling it, he had good games.  Look at how many games this year though where he walked 2 or 3 batters and was ineffective.

Kyle Farnsworth also throws close to 100, or used to.  And what kind of success has he had?  He hasn't exactly been at the top of the list when people talk about best relievers in baseball.

Mariano is great because of that one incredible pitch, and being able to locate it wherever he wants.  Guys like Zumaya could learn a lesson from him.


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