Joel Zumaya is scheduled to undergo Tommy John elbow surgery tomorrow, but he won’t do so as an official member of the Twins after Minnesota released the oft-injured right-hander this morning.
Minnesota could have simply transferred him to the 60-day disabled list and cleared the 40-man roster spot that way, which is generally more common than outright releasing an injured player.
Either way, as part of his partially guaranteed one-year deal Zumaya will get $400,000 and has said he plans to continue pitching. He looked healthy this spring before walking off the field with a torn elbow ligament following an early batting practice session, so the best-case scenario for Zumaya likely involves searching for minor-league deals next February or March.
UPDATE: Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com reports that, contrary to what was previously believed, the Twins are “on the hook” for Zumaya’s entire $850,000 salary because the injury occurred before the season, which would seem to go against the entire point of not guaranteeing his deal.
Michael Wuertz is one of the few intriguing pitchers still left unsigned and his lengthy injury history has no doubt scared teams off, but Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the reliever will hold a tryout next week.
According to Wolfson the Twins are among the teams expected to attend, which makes sense because they could certainly use some bullpen help following Joel Zumaya’s latest season-ending injury and Wuertz is a Minnesota native.
Wuertz was injured and ineffective last season, convincing the A’s to decline their $3.25 million option. However, when healthy he was an extremely effective setup man from 2004-2010, throwing 381 innings with a 3.45 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine frames.
Well, by one measure anyway.
After failing his physical with the Yankees, Hideki Okajima returned to Japan over the weekend, signing with the Softbank Hawks. He’ll bring with him the 17th best ERA+ among all major league relievers to throw at least 200 innings:
1. Mariano Rivera – 206
2. Takashi Saito – 199
3. Jonathan Papelbon – 197
4. Billy Wagner – 187
5. Mike Adams – 187
6. Joakim Soria – 181
7. Brad Ziegler – 173
8. Francisco Rodriguez – 172
9. Akinori Otsuka – 171
10. Bryan Harvey – 162
11. Peter Moylan – 161
12. Tom Henke – 157
13. Jeff Zimmerman – 152
14. Joe Nathan – 152
15. Alfredo Aceves – 151
16. Rafael Soriano – 149
17. Hideki Okajima – 149
18. Crad Cordero – 149
19. John Wetteland – 149
20. Joel Zumaya – 148
Obviously, that’s a silly list — many relievers not included have had better five-year runs than some of these short-career guys — but it does sort of demonstrate the quality of Okajima’s innings. My favorite Okajima factoid: he gave up a homer to the very first batter he faced (John Buck) in his major league debut and then went 21 2/3 innings without giving up another run
Okajima ended up 17-8 with a 3.11 ERA over 246 1/3 innings in five seasons with the Red Sox. He also had a 2.11 ERA in 21 1/3 innings postseason innings. And he did it all for about $7.5 million, which is less than Soriano will make with the Yankees this year alone.
From MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger comes word that Joel Zumaya has decided to have Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (pitching) elbow and will undergo the reconstructive procedure by the end of this month.
Zumaya suffered the UCL tear after throwing 13 pitches in his first bullpen session of the spring.
He was signed to a one-year, $850,000 major league contract in January. But because he did not make the Opening Day roster, the Twins will only have to pay $400,000 of that whether they release him or place him on the 60-day disabled list.
Zumaya has informed the Twins that he is going to try his best to return from the surgery, but it will take at least 12 months of rest and rehab, and he could struggle to attract free agent interest next year.
The last time Joel Zumaya threw a baseball in a game that mattered was June 28, 2010. Given his injury over the weekend, if he does so again, it won’t be until 2013 at the earliest. Facing yet another rehab has to seem horrifying to the guy, so it would be totally understandable if he just decided to hang it up.
But he hasn’t figured that out yet. He told reporters this morning that he’s still thinking about it and that it’s a family decision. He’ll talk with other pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery to see what’s what.
Some guys are just snake bit. It’s a shame that a pitcher as fun to watch as Zumaya is one of them.