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.
The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.
The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.
In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.
Most of the time anyway.
Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:
One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.
The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.