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Zumaya to have season-ending surgery

Zumaya to have season-ending surgery

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DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya will undergo season-ending surgery next month to remove the bone fragment from the stress fracture in his ailing right shoulder.

The announcement from the club came on Thursday after an examination from orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who has consulted with Zumaya ever since Detroit's hard-throwing setup man was diagnosed with the stress fracture last summer.

After looking over the shoulder and talking with Zumaya, Andrews gave him another cortisone shot to quiet the inflammation and scheduled surgery for mid-August.

No official timetable was given, but Zumaya said last week that surgery would keep him out for eight weeks. He planned on having the surgery at some point anyway, but hoped he could put it off until season's end while pitching through any discomfort for the season's final two months. He took cortisone shots in the front and back of his shoulder and began throwing again late last week.

Once Zumaya played catch Saturday, and again Monday, however, his shoulder still didn't feel right. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand promptly scheduled Zumaya to see Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

Andrews diagnosed last winter that Zumaya could work his way back to pitching again without surgery, noting that his fracture is a condition many football quarterbacks play through. However, it's a rare condition for a pitcher, so there wasn't much, if any, history to check.

Still, Zumaya came back better than expected in late April, throwing fastballs at his old velocity at 100 mph and above. For that reason, Zumaya said last week, he wasn't overly concerned when he had shoulder soreness a few weeks ago. Once it became more severe during a July 17 outing at Yankee Stadium, Zumaya told the team medical staff.

Zumaya finishes the season with a 3-3 record, a 4.94 ERA and one save, pitching 31 innings over 29 appearances while walking 22 and striking out 30. Since pitching 62 games and 83 1/3 innings over a breakout rookie year in 2006, Zumaya has been limited to 78 games and 88 innings over three injury-shortened seasons. For that reason, though Zumaya's timetable should allow him to be ready for next Spring Training after a full offseason of workouts, the Tigers can't assume he'll be back and healthy.

Zumaya will turn 25 years old in November. He said earlier this year that the last few years and the injuries have changed his outlook and forced him to mature.

The latest development on Zumaya could affect how or whether the Tigers pursue relief help before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. They've been linked in reports to interest in late-inning relievers, but they arguably have bigger priorities to find a hitter or starting pitcher. The Orioles traded closer George Sherrill to the Dodgers on Thursday, while Toronto setup man Jason Frasor now seems likely to stay if the Blue Jays hold onto Roy Halladay and other core players.

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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