LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers stopped waiting for Joel Zumaya's comeback last winter. They never stopped following it.
"It'll break my heart if he's hurt again," manager Jim Leyland said on Sunday.
That's why the news hit the Tigers clubhouse hard Sunday afternoon, when Zumaya was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Detroit was willing to give Zumaya another shot in camp this winter, but not with a guaranteed contract. Zumaya threw for scouts in mid-December, then signed a one-year, $800,000 contract -- half of the money guaranteed -- with the Twins last month.
He went to an American League Central rival, but many of his teammates were pulling for him.
"I actually saw him in Orlando a few weeks ago, just happenstance," Justin Verlander said on Sunday after hearing the news. "He said he was really excited, feeling good. Even if somebody's with another team, you never want to see that [happen]. It's sad. It stinks."
Verlander and Zumaya made the team the same year, and were standout rookies on the 2006 team that won an American League pennant. Their careers have been on different paths since.
"I feel bad for him," said Brandon Inge, who was also on that '06 team. "He's had a rough go at it. Came out strong in the beginning, showed promise. It's tough to see someone get hurt like that repeatedly. I feel bad for him."