Joel Zumaya let another one of his famously blazing fastballs fly and immediately felt "a loud and disgusting pop" as he collapsed to the mound in pain, fearful that his career was over.
“It felt like my elbow exploded,” the Detroit Tigers reliever said on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the frightening scene in the eighth inning of a 7-5 win over the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis. “It was like someone took a hammer and shattered my elbow.”
A magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday revealed a fractured right elbow, a diagnosis the team called “the best bad news you can get.” The hard thrower will miss the rest of this season, but there was no ligament damage to his elbow so they are optimistic he might pitch again next season.
Zumaya will have a CT scan when the Tigers return to Detroit to further evaluate the injury, which will likely take about four months to heal. Doctors have not decided if he will need surgery.
“When I felt my elbow go, I instantly thought my career was ending,” Zumaya said.
The official diagnosis is a fractured right olecranon, which is the bony tip of the elbow just under the skin.
“I have never seen it on a one-pitch episode like that,” athletic trainer Kevin Rand said.
A hush fell over Target Field as Zumaya crumpled to his knees. His right thumb quivered from the remarkable pain in a scene that drew comparisons to when San Francisco’s Dave Dravecky broke his arm while throwing a pitch against Montreal in 1989.
Zumaya missed large chunks of the past three seasons because of an injury to his shoulder and a ruptured tendon in his middle finger.
Zumaya finally seemed healthy, having pitched more innings in 2010 than he had in any of the previous three seasons with a fastball that was hitting 100 mph again.
Now, he has another long and arduous rehab ahead of him. But considering the alternative, Zumaya was breathing a big sigh of relief on Tuesday.
“For a minute, I thought that was the last bullet my arm had,” Zumaya said.
The Chicago Cubs put pitcher Carlos Zambrano on the restricted list (dugout blowup) and placed lefty reliever John Grabow (sprained knee) on the disabled list. Zambrano is expected to be out through the All-Star break. … The Philadelphia Phillies put second baseman Chase Utley (sprained thumb) and third baseman Placido Polanco (sore elbow) on the 15-day disabled list. … The Boston Red Sox put catcher Victor Martinez on the DL because of a broken left thumb. … The American League held a 134-118 edge over the National League in interleague matchups the year – the seventh straight year the AL has topped the NL. … Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told the team that Edwin Rodriguez will remain as manager through the end of this season. … The St. Louis Cardinals put starting third baseman David Freese (bruised ankle) on the 15-day DL. … Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez injured his right hamstring running the bases and was removed from L.A.’s game against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning.