07/29/09 7:29 PM ET
Zumaya to see orthopedic specialist
Season-ending surgery a possibility for Tigers reliever
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said surgery is a possibility Thursday, but not a certainty, to clear up the bone shard in Zumaya's shoulder from the stress fracture that developed last year.
"It's going to be more of a diagnostic [visit] than a physical examination," Rand said of Zumaya's visit to Dr. Andrews' office in Pensacola, Fla.
In other words, Zumaya seems to be back at the point where he was a week and a half ago, when shoulder pain forced him onto the disabled list after an outing against the Yankees. Together, Dr. Andrews and Zumaya have to decide whether he still has a shot to pitch again this year without surgery, or if he should just go ahead and have it now. Zumaya said last week that he would consider surgery if his shoulder soreness didn't clear up.
Zumaya took two cortisone shots last week to quiet the swelling in his shoulder so the team medical staff could see how he felt when he threw. He had light sessions of catch last Saturday and Monday, Rand said, but complained of soreness again Tuesday.
Dr. Andrews has been consulting with Zumaya on his shoulder ever since he was diagnosed with a stress fracture last August. He advised Zumaya last year that he could work his way back to pitching again without surgery, that his fracture is a condition many football quarterbacks go through.
Zumaya came back better than expected in late April, throwing fastballs at his old velocity of 100 mph and above. For that reason, Zumaya said last week he wasn't overly concerned when he had shoulder soreness a few weeks ago. Once it became more severe during that outing at Yankees Stadium, Zumaya told the team medical staff.
If Zumaya opts for surgery now, it would almost surely end his season. Zumaya said last week that recovery takes about eight weeks, which would take up nearly the rest of the regular season. If he doesn't have it now, he expects to have it when the season ends.
The latest development on Zumaya could affect how or whether the Tigers pursue relief help before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. They've been linked in reports to interest in late-inning relievers, including Baltimore's George Sherrill and Toronto's Jason Frasor, but they arguably have bigger priorities to find a hitter or starting pitcher.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.