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Command continues to elude Zumaya

Command continues to elude Zumaya

Joel Zumaya battled with his command in his second rehab outing, walking three batters over 1 1/3 innings for Class A Lakeland against Clearwater on Wednesday.

Zumaya, on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his right shoulder, walked his first two batters for the second consecutive outing on his way to a three-walk, two-run opening inning. A passed ball advanced the runners to set up a sacrifice fly before Matthew Rizzotti doubled in another run.

Zumaya gave up a home run by Derrick Mitchell leading off his second inning of work. Zumaya's strikeout of Fidel Hernandez was his final batter faced, having apparently hit his pitch count.

Team officials were planning to discuss Zumaya's status after the outing and decide the next step. They could advance Zumaya to Triple-A Toledo or Double-A Erie for the final step of his rehab assignment, pitching back-to-back days, or they could have him pitch again for Lakeland to make sure he's ready for an advancement.

Manager Jim Leyland and others have emphasized that Zumaya's shoulder health is the key sign of progress. Leyland said Wednesday he had called Zumaya, as well as Jeremy Bonderman, to see how they were handling their rehabs and offer words of encouragement. But he also emphasized that emotions don't play a part in evaluating them.

"I'm sensitive to it. I'm serious," Leyland said. "I care about them. But I also have a job to do up here right now. They're a big part of our organization. We need them. We'd love to have them. And I just let them know I'm thinking about them."

Bonderman, also on the disabled list with shoulder issues, played catch earlier this week in Lakeland. Leyland said he's scheduled to throw off a mound in the coming days. Meanwhile, Leyland added, Dontrelle Willis -- who began the season on the DL with an anxiety disorder -- threw there earlier this week, as well. Leyland said he talked with Willis on the phone.

"He seemed upbeat," Leyland said. "He seemed in real good spirits."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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