Blog Entry

Zumaya: Like no one else

Posted on: June 29, 2010 2:05 am
He did things no one else could.

Not just 100 mph fastballs, but one after another. Not just 100 mph, but 102, 103 and, according to's GameDay, even 104.8 mph.

But Joel Zumaya also got hurt like one else did.

The tendon in his index finger burst, on that awful night in Kansas City. His shoulder came apart, on that awful day at home in San Diego. And now, apparently, it's his elbow, on the mound at Target Field on Monday night, for all to see.

You cringe, just looking at the tape, watching him collapse in pain, his right hand twitching as his left hand goes to the wounded elbow. You'd cringe if it was anyone, but somehow it seems worse because it's Zumaya, who has been through all this before.

I'm sitting here in Atlanta, after watching another kid from San Diego who can throw the ball harder than anyone else. I'm sitting here thinking that this is why we should never talk about Stephen Strasburg's future -- or any pitcher's future -- without adding the disclaimer, "as long as he stays healthy."

Zumaya was huge in 2006. Not Strasburg-huge, but huge enough that the Comerica Park fans went nuts the moment he ran in from the bullpen. You just don't see that for a middle reliever -- but you just don't see middle relievers, or anyone else, hitting triple-digits with the regularity that Zumaya did.

He was great, and he was fun. I won't forget the day in spring training 2007, when Tom Gage of the Detroit News and I sat outside the clubhouse in Lakeland, Fla., with Zumaya, as he told us about his drive across the country, with his brother riding alongside and his grandmother in the back seat.

The way he told it, he drove at triple-digits, too.

But then the injuries came. That night in Kansas City, the bullpen door opened, but instead of Zumaya heading for the mound, he headed towards the dugout, holding his hand and writhing in pain. No one knew whether he would pitch again, or if he would ever throw hard if he did pitch.

Then there was the shoulder. He was moving boxes in the attic, worried that his family would need to evacuate because of the San Diego fires. And when one of the boxes fell on him, he had shoulder injury that pitchers just don't get, and certainly don't come back from.

But he did come back, and when I saw Zumaya last week at Citi Field, the only thing I said to him was, "It's good to see you healthy."

He was back to throwing as hard as ever. Even the last pitch he threw Monday, the one to Delmon Young that we can't watch without a cringe, showed up at 99 mph.

We can only hope that someday, we'll see him throw another one.
Category: MLB

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Zumaya: Like no one else

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Zumaya: Like no one else

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Zumaya: Like no one else

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Zumaya: Like no one else

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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 12:03 am

Zumaya: Like no one else

Since: Apr 30, 2007
Posted on: June 29, 2010 2:34 pm

Zumaya: Like no one else

Certainly you hate to see players like Zumaya go down.  They guy is as unselfish as they come.  Not just a great player when he is healthy, but a great person.  Everytime I went to see the Tigers play, Zumaya never hesitated to stop and sign some merchandise for some kid.  I watched as it happened and I knew that this was not going to be a quick comeback.

Even if it's not with the Tigers, I hope that Zumaya can find a way back onto the field.  Baseball could use more players like him.  When he plays he leaves everything out on the field.

Hope to see you in the future, Zoom Zoom.  Nobody can come on to the field to the tune of "VooDoo Child" like you can.

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