Joel Zumaya is feeling good

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Zumaya2.jpgBetween Guitar Hero and the San Diego wild fires, there haven’t been many pitchers more snakebit than Joel Zumaya has been these past few years.  But that’s all behind him now, he tells The Detroit News’ Lynn Henning. He’s been training in Florida since the beginning of January and . . . dare we say it?

“That’s why I left my baby son and my wife, because I felt like I
hadn’t given this team enough the past three seasons, and with the
expectations, I want to make this season the best possible year for me
and for this team.  I didn’t want to go back (to California) during the off-season and lay
down in a chair. I just want to be on this team. I want to make this
team, if it’s as a set-up man, a closer, or long relief. I’m feeling great, the best I have in the last 2 1/2 years. I have nothing bothering me.”

He says he understands why Detroit brought in Jose Valverde, but he sees himself closing games again soon.  Henning notes that he’s been throwing 55-60 pitches during his training outings, suggesting that Zumaya might return to starting again. Hey, if Kyle Farnsworth can do it . . .

Fantasies aside, Tigers fans have to like hearing all of that eagerness and hope from Zumaya. The team has a lot of arms hanging around camp this year and could
conceivably get by without Zumaya. But life would be so much easier for
them — and more fun, given his velocity — if Zumaya is truly healthy
again.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.