Joel Zumaya fractured his elbow in an ugly scene back in June and underwent surgery in early July. It looked like he would have a lengthy road back to a major league mound — and he still might — but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told James Schmehl of MLive.com yesterday that he expects the big right-hander to be ready for spring training.
“(Zumaya’s) recovery is fine. We expect him to be 100 percent when he reports for spring training,” Dombrowski said. “They’ll all pitch at important times. If Joel is healthy, we know he’ll be getting the ball and getting a lot of important outs, no matter when you use him.”
Zumaya, 26, posted a 2.58 ERA and 34/11 K/BB ratio over 38 1/3 innings before going down with the injury. Known for lighting up the radar gun, Zumaya has a long history of injuries and also underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in August of 2009.
The Tigers hope to have him ready for spring training, but with Phil Coke expected to get a shot at the rotation, it’s easy to see why the Tigers felt compelled to add Joaquin Benoit as the top set-up man for Jose Valverde. That doesn’t make handing him a three-year, $16.5 million contract any less questionable, though.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.