Zumaya questionable for Opening Day
Skipper Leyland unsure if reliever can get ready in time to start season
VIERA, Fla. -- The good news on Joel Zumaya is that the Tigers' medical staff has put him on a medication pack that it hopes will ease the muscle cramp that has sidelined him for the past several days. The bad news is that after he misses the next couple days for the medication, his timetable for getting into game shape has manager Jim Leyland questioning his status for Opening Day.
"I doubt very much whether he's going to be ready for Opening Day unless something happens in a hurry," Leyland said. "That's just the way it is."
Zumaya hasn't thrown in a game since a March 2 exhibition against Florida Southern College. He had discomfort in his right shoulder the next day, and it lingered long enough that Zumaya visited Dr. James Andrews on March 6 for an exam, which cleared him to pitch.
Soon after Zumaya returned, however, a cramp developed between his neck and right shoulder that left him struggling to sleep comfortably and unable to throw. The cramp is a separate issue from the previous shoulder soreness.
Still, it's the succession of injuries -- dating back to right shoulder surgery a year and a half ago and a stress fracture in the same shoulder last August -- that leaves Leyland publicly wondering if the remaining few weeks of Spring Training will be enough time for Zumaya to get ready.
"I only say that because he really hasn't pitched for two years," Leyland said. "If he had been pitching the last two years and then had a little setback like this, he might be able to get himself ready. But when a guy hasn't pitched for that long, let me put it this way: It's in the gray area now, unless something happens."
At the very least, Zumaya's status is going to mean a longer Spring Training stay for a couple of pitchers. Though Leyland wouldn't name names Sunday, hard-throwing prospect Ryan Perry is one pitcher whose status is clearly tied with Zumaya. That doesn't mean Perry would make the team if Zumaya opens the season on the disabled list, but he'll at least stick around longer in Spring Training and pitch against more big league competition in a potential look.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.