Zumaya was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, and the Tigers reliever has been sent back to Detroit for an MRI exam on his right shoulder. The hard-throwing right-handed reliever felt a pop while pitching in the seventh inning in Friday night's game against the Yankees and said afterward he was unable to lift his arm. He surrendered three runs in the frame and took the loss.
There is currently no timetable for Zumaya's return, and the Tigers have not yet determined the severity of the injury. Ryan Perry, who holds a 4.28 ERA in 26 games for Detroit this year, was recalled from Triple-A Toledo. Perry was 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA and three saves with the Mud Hens, and he was expected to be in New York in time for Saturday afternoon's game.
"It's so unsettled -- he could be back pitching in two weeks, or he could miss the rest of the year," Leyland said of Zumaya. "That's how sensitive it is."
The timing of this setback comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering the way Zumaya has pitched lately. Though he has been inconsistent at times, Zumaya's velocity on Friday was as hard or harder as it has been all season, and he seemed especially well-rested and healthy coming out of the All-Star break.
"He had control issues, but there was no sign anything was bothering him," Leyland said.
With Zumaya out for an unspecified period of time, Leyland has already made plans to reshuffle his bullpen. Brandon Lyon is going to be the primary eighth-inning man setting up closer Fernando Rodney, with Bobby Seay facing tough left-handed hitters in the late innings. Leyland said he was planning the move before the injury because of Zumaya's recent struggles.
The newcomer, Perry, will be used mostly in the middle innings, serving as a bridge between the starter and the setup relievers. The Tigers hoped to keep the 22-year-old in the Minors longer, but Perry was the best option in the farm system to replace Zumaya on short notice.
"I think he's done OK," Leyland said. "I think he's been a little inconsistent, but he was the definite choice of everybody down there."
This injury for Zumaya is an alarming additional chapter to what has been a brutal stretch in his career. After an impressive rookie season in 2006, helping lead the Tigers to the World Series, Zumaya has been plagued by a score of injuries that have prevented him from regaining that dominant form.
Most recently, Zumaya spent most of April on the DL with a sore right shoulder and has been inconsistent with his arm slot since returning to the team. As a result of the mechanical difficulties, Zumaya is just 3-3 this year with a 4.94 ERA.
The Tigers still believe Zumaya can ultimately find the success he enjoyed three years ago. Still, at this point, 2006 is starting to feel like eons ago.
"I am concerned for the kid," Leyland said. "This has been a nightmare for the kid for a couple years now. You're concerned for him -- obviously for his well-being, as well as the ballclub's, obviously. But that's the way it is."
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.