Zumaya gets good sign for next season

Zumaya gets good sign for next season

DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya is throwing again as he works his way back from the elbow problems that hampered him since Spring Training. It won't get him ready in time for this season, but it's a sign of hope that he might get his career restarted next season.

Zumaya is at the Tigers' facility in Lakeland, Fla., playing catch at about 90 feet, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said earlier this week. He'll continue his throwing progression from there, though any chance of appearing in games this fall at any level would appear unclear. He's a free agent this offseason.

Zumaya's contract status made this a big year for the hard-throwing right-hander, who hasn't pitched a full season since his rookie campaign in 2006. After an offseason strengthening and rehab campaign brought him back at full strength for Spring Training, his elbow seemingly recovered from a fractured bone at the tip.

But discomfort after Zumaya's first Spring Training outing led to his throwing program being shut down. Tests in April showed more trouble in the elbow, forcing Zumaya to choose between season-ending surgery and rehab. Zumaya chose to avoid surgery for now.