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Joel Zumaya injury: what do we know

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This was first posted at The Tenth Inning Stretch and reposted here. The original post can be found here

By now we all know that Zumaya left yesterday's bullpen session with pain/discomfort on "the inside of his elbow" after he threw 15 pitches to Chris Herrmann. According to the observers he was throwing very hard. Terry Ryan announced that there will be an MRI today and the results will be announced either late today or tomorrow.

Of course, the reaction of the Twins' Territory, especially in the light of the injury-filled , and disappointing 2011 season, was nothing short of "gloom and doom". Here, I am attempting to really go through all those reports and separate opinion from facts, look into quotes, reading between the lines and see what the story might be.

John Shipley wrote this report at Pioneer Press, Phil Mackey this update at ESPN 1500, La Velle Neal this piece at Star Tribune and Rhett Bollinger this one for MLB.com. There are some interesting direct quotes from Terry Ryan and other Twins' members. Let's exmine them:

"It would be a little less concerning if we didn't have the history he's experienced in his career"

What I read into this, is that the injury/pain/discomfort is not that severe and if it were. let's say Carl Pavano, instead of Joel Zumaya, it might have been a different story about perceptions of severity. This is good news in my book, and is reinforced by this quote by Ron Gardenhire: "He's had some issues and had some arm injuries, and we want to protect him as much as we can". So this might be indeed something not extremely serious, but Zumaya and the Twins are playing it safe, because of his injury history.

A reference was made about the pain the Joe Nathan experience last season in Spring Training because of scar tissue being removed when pitching, a process that is helpful but painful. When Ryan was asked about that, he said "that would be ideal".

Again, it is a good possibility that this is the case. According to everyone he was throwing hard. The harder someone throws, the faster scar tissue breaks and the more painful it is. Danny Valencia is quoted by Phil Mackey saying "He was throwing gas, man," Ryan said that "We may have to tone him down some."

It is entirely likely that Zumaya's discomfort is actually a good sign: scar tissue breakdown. I agree 100% with what Terry Ryan said, about Zumaya:

"Anytime a guy gets an MRI, there's got to be concern. But, I'm not going to overreact until the results come out. Let's hope it's not something serious."

Updated 02-26-2012 at 10:39 AM by Thrylos

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  1. davesaxton's Avatar
    I have to agree on this one. There are a lot of pitchers that have soreness in the elbow right out of the gate, for most it is just getting back into the rhythm of throwing again. To look at Zumaya and say that his season is over, strictly on the idea that, he is "injury prone" and has had serious elbow problems is jumping the gun a bit. He felt a little pain, and the trainers didnt want to risk him doing more damage so they shut him down for the day and are getting an MRI just to make sure. By all accounts he wasnt writhing in pain like when he broke his elbow, he just stopped throwing and called over the trainer. If anything I see this as a good thing for Joel, he knows when he is having a problem and is man enough to say "ok, that hurt. lets make sure its nothing serious." And a kudos to Terry Ryan for not letting things get out of control and being honest with the fan base.
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