As was reported by various news outlets, former Tiger Joel Zumaya suffered a season-ending elbow injury. Zumaya, who hasn’t pitched since June of 2010, was hoping to resurrect his career with the rival Minnesota Twins after signing with them in the offseason.
This is yet another sad chapter in a once-promising career that has been littered with injuries. Zumaya, as most Tigers fans fondly recall, burst onto the scene with Justin Verlander and utterly dominated the competition. He regularly hit triple digits and quickly became a fan favorite due to his blazing fastball and his friendly demeanor. His open disdain for the New York Yankees during the 2006 post-season also endeared him to many a Tiger fan.
As poet Robert Frost once said, “Nothing gold can stay,” and this held true for Zumaya as well. The injuries—ranging from too much Guitar Hero to a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger to a severe shoulder injury—began piling up, and may have proven too much to overcome. After throwing 83.1 innings his rookie season, Zumaya has thrown just 126.1 innings in the following four seasons.
Zumaya will now have to decide between surgery to repair his torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) and extensive rehab, or retirement. I don’t think anyone would blame Zumaya if he chose surgery to try and prolong his career, but I also don’t think anyone would blame him if he finally just hung them up.
I wish him the best.