Tigers expect Joel Zumaya to be ready for spring training

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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.

Pirates pitcher Steven Brault sang the National Anthem last night

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Pittsburgh Pirates swingman Steven Brault has a 4.38 ERA in 19 games this year. He also has a music degree and is a professional singer on the side of his baseball gig. He didn’t get into last night’s game against the Brewers as a pitcher, but he did get to use his singing skills.

Specifically, Brault got to sing the National Anthem. And he did an OK job of it too. He’s not Whitney Houston or anything, but he did what all Anthem singers who are not as gifted as Whitney Houston was should do: he kept it straight and businesslike, avoiding unnecessary flourishes:

It’s march, dang it, not a ballad, and it should be treated as such. Unless of course you’re Whitney Houston.