LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers stopped waiting for Joel Zumaya's comeback last winter. They never stopped following it.
"It'll break my heart if he's hurt again," manager Jim Leyland said on Sunday.
That's why the news hit the Tigers clubhouse hard Sunday afternoon, when Zumaya was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Detroit was willing to give Zumaya another shot in camp this winter, but not with a guaranteed contract. Zumaya threw for scouts in mid-December, then signed a one-year, $800,000 contract -- half of the money guaranteed -- with the Twins last month.
He went to an American League Central rival, but many of his teammates were pulling for him.
"I actually saw him in Orlando a few weeks ago, just happenstance," Justin Verlander said on Sunday after hearing the news. "He said he was really excited, feeling good. Even if somebody's with another team, you never want to see that [happen]. It's sad. It stinks."
Verlander and Zumaya made the team the same year, and were standout rookies on the 2006 team that won an American League pennant. Their careers have been on different paths since.
"I feel bad for him," said Brandon Inge, who was also on that '06 team. "He's had a rough go at it. Came out strong in the beginning, showed promise. It's tough to see someone get hurt like that repeatedly. I feel bad for him."
Benoit says neck ailment isn't serious
LAKELAND, Fla. -- One week into camp, the Tigers have their first injury of Spring Training. However, Joaquin Benoit's neck tightness isn't expected to be a serious problem.
"I've been through it last year and the year before in Spring Training," Benoit said, "so it's something normal that I have to go through."
The Tigers also indicated they don't believe it's a long-term issue.
"He'll be fine," manager Jim Leyland said.
Benoit was scheduled to throw to hitters on Sunday for the first time this camp, but felt the tightness as he was getting ready. He was scheduled to be one of the last pitchers to throw along with fellow setup man Octavio Dotel.
"I got here and I was fine," Benoit said. "When I got out there and started warming up a little bit, it got tighter and tighter. It got to a point where I couldn't turn my head to the right."
Benoit said he'll work on loosening up his neck before he throws again.
Leyland leaving roster open for long shots
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' roster is largely set, except for two or three spots. Moreover, those openings have a well-defined group of candidates. Still, manager Jim Leyland is leaving open the chance for a spring surprise.
Leyland said earlier that there won't be much evaluation in this camp, but he clarified himself on Sunday.
"Maybe that comes off wrong to people," Leyland said. "What I'm saying is, we're a pretty set club. That's the only point. We know four starters. We know our closer. We know our setup guy. We know [Octavio] Dotel and [Phil] Coke and those guys are going to be on the team. What we have to do is refine some of the decisions we made -- Cabrera to play third, give Inge a shot at second.
"We have a lot of work to do, but it's not, per se, to come up with five guys to make this team."
Leyland doesn't want his young players to focus too much of their efforts on making the team, which is why he has downplayed such competitions as the fifth starter spot. But he also doesn't want them to think they can't make the team.
"I think there's a real chance for a long shot to make it this year," he said.