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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Zumaya to have surgery after all

With every injury, there's a worst-case scenario.

Unfortunately, for Joel Zumaya, that scenario has come to pass more often than not. And it's again, as he's now opted to have surgery next week that will likely end his career as a Detroit Tiger.

When Dr. James Andrews last examined Zumaya's surgically repaired elbow, seeking an answer to the inexplicable soreness the oft-injured relief pitcher experienced every time he tried to throw, he found no answers. Nothing showed on the MRI or X-rays, nor were there any nerve issues.

Andrews gave two options: A wait-and-see approach of six more weeks of rehabilitation, or exploratory surgery to attempt to pinpoint the elusive cause of the pain.

At the time, Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand said with the surgery option, the timetable "was not favorable for him to pitch in 2011."

Zumaya chose rehab again, but two weeks into the six prescribed, he's changed his mind. He'll have surgery on May 10.

The oft-injured reliever has been through the process before — from the torn ligament in his finger, to shoulder surgery, to the most recent, surgery to fix a broken bone (the olecranon) in his elbow — each time bringing the possibility of being his last chance.

But he signed just a one-year contract with the Tigers in the offseason, and it's unlikely they — or any team — will sign him again until he proves he can avoid injury.

The Tigers may have hamstrung themselves a bit by their loyalty to the popular player, going into the season with inconsistent youngster Ryan Perry as the only truly viable alternative to Zumaya as the seventh-inning specialist. That role has been one of the most glaring problems in a bullpen that has been, unfortunately, rife with them.

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