On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers announced that Joel Zumaya wouldn’t throw for at least a week following a consultation with Dr. James Andrews on his sore right elbow.
Soon thereafter, however, Zumaya told reporters that the timetable for his recovery would take longer. He won’t be throwing a baseball for two weeks, during which he’ll work on a strengthening program. After that, the elbow will be examined again and a further course of action will be recommended.
But when doctors don’t seem to know exactly what the problem is, it’s a bit troubling.
“We’re still trying to trigger what’s causing it,” Zumaya said this morning. “Initially, they thought it was scar tissue.”
According to Beck, part of the problem is that swelling in the elbow is preventing a clearer diagnosis. That has to go down first before a proper diagnosis can be made and subsequent treatment prescribed.
But at the very least, Zumaya very likely won’t be ready for Opening Day. Zumaya himself has pretty much ruled himself out, making it all but official.
“I don’t really know, man,” he said. “It’s already seeming to me like I’m not going to be there.”
So this could just be a temporary setback in Zumaya’s recovery, perhaps some soreness that was bound to develop once he started throwing a baseball at full speed again. But with Zumaya’s injury history, nothing should really be considered less than serious.
If there’s a bright side to any of this (besides the fact that no structural damage was found in Zumaya’s elbow), it might be that this is happening during spring training, rather than during the season. The Tigers now know that Zumaya won’t be ready for Opening Day and can plan their roster accordingly. And Zumaya can take all the time he needs to get fully healthy and hopefully prepare himself to pitch the rest of the season.
Of course, that’s a best case scenario, and there haven’t been many of those where Zumaya is concerned.