Minnnesota Twins reliever Joel Zumaya was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right elbow on Sunday, meaning that his comeback bid and possibly his career are over.
Zumaya signed an incentive-laden, one-year deal with the Twins, hoping to upgrade their bullpen with his 100 mph fastball. General manager Terry Ryan knew Zumaya’s injury past when he offered the contract, but the idea that Zumaya could throw 100 mph for them was to tempting to pass up.
“I took a risk. It was a high risk with high reward,” Ryan said after the MRI exam revealed the torn ulnar collateral ligament. “Unfortunately it didn’t work. And he feels bad. I feel bad.”
Zumaya lasted just 13 pitches in his first session with the Twins. Ryan said that he spoke with Zumaya on Sunday after they received the news, but said it’s too early to talk about Zumaya’s plans for the future.
Zumaya has to choose between 2 choices.
1. He could choose to have Tommy John surgery and start another long rehab program that could last a year or even longer.
2. He could choose to retire.
“He’s distraught, as you’d expect,” Ryan said of Zumaya, who was not available for comment. “He’s going to come in here in the next day or so and we’re going to talk about the immediate future for him.”
Zumaya had his best season during his rookie season with the Tigers, when he was a 21-year-old fireballer who struck out 97 hitters in 83 1-3 innings and became a force in the backend of the bullpen.
Injuries to his wrist, finger and shoulder, have limiting him to fewer than 40 innings in during the next four seasons. In 2010 his elbow snapped in a gruesome scene that ended his 2011 season before it started.
To me, Zumaya should call it a career. If he wants a future where he can do anything by himself without pain, he needs to cut his losses and realize that he lived his dream but not everything can last forever.
I think he could be a good guy to have as a possible pitching coach or bullpen coach. Maybe even a bench coach.
This is the fear when a guy comes in throwing 100 mph consistently. Bodies are not made that way and when you do it again and again, eventually your arm is going to say no, you can’t anymore.
I wish Zumaya the best of luck in the future but hope he makes the right decision.