FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Minnesota reliever Joel Zumaya has a torn ligament in his right elbow and will miss the entire season, the latest setback for the hard thrower who has been plagued by injuries since 2006.
Zumaya had signed an incentive-laden, one-year deal with the Twins, who hoped he could bolster their bullpen with his 100 mph heat.
“I took a risk. It was a high risk with high reward,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Sunday after an MRI exam revealed the torn ulnar collateral ligament. “Unfortunately it didn’t work. And he feels bad. I feel bad.”
Zumaya had not thrown a pitch since June 2010 after breaking his elbow while pitching for Detroit in a game at Target Field.
He worked out for several teams this winter, and the Twins offered him $850,000. The contract is only guaranteed for $400,000.
Zumaya lasted just 13 pitches in his first session of live batting practice Saturday before walking off the mound with pain in his elbow. Ryan spoke with him on Sunday after they received the news, but said it was too early to talk about Zumaya’s plans for the future.
The 27-year-old could choose to have Tommy John surgery and start another exhaustive rehab program. Or he could choose to retire.
“He’s distraught, as you’d expect,” Ryan said. “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 only been in the clubhouse for a couple of weeks, but he’d already managed to make a strong impression with the team. He pitched against the Twins for the Tigers and manager Ron Gardenhire said he quickly grew to like the heavily tattooed reliever who electrified Detroit’s run to the World Series as a rookie in 2006.
“He looks like some monster out there pitching against you,” Gardenhire said. “But you get him in your clubhouse and you realize there’s special people and he’s a special person and it’s a really sad day for him and his family and our baseball team, too, because we were all hoping this guy would be able to get back on this thing and make it through. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”
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