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2/26/12

Joel Zumaya injury: what do we know

Update: Zumaya's MRI revealed a Torn UCL. Ligament replacement surgery next. Out for at least a year.

By now we all know that Zumaya left yesterday's bullpen session with pain/discomfort on "the inside of his elbow" after he threw 15 pitches to Chris Herrmann. According to the observers he was throwing very hard. Terry Ryan announced that there will be an MRI today and the results will be announced either late today or tomorrow.

Of course, the reaction of the Twins' Territory, especially in the light of the injury-filled , and disappointing 2011 season, was nothing short of "gloom and doom". Here, I am attempting to really go through all those reports and separate opinion from facts, look into quotes, reading between the lines and see what the story might be.

John Shipley wrote this report at Pioneer Press, Phil Mackey this update at ESPN 1500, La Velle Neal this piece at Star Tribune and Rhett Bollinger this one for MLB.com. There are some interesting direct quotes from Terry Ryan and other Twins' members. Let's examine them:

"It would be a little less concerning if we didn't have the history he's experienced in his career"

What I read into this, is that the injury/pain/discomfort is not that severe and if it were. let's say Carl Pavano, instead of Joel Zumaya, it might have been a different story about perceptions of severity. This is good news in my book, and is reinforced by this quote by Ron Gardenhire: "He's had some issues and had some arm injuries, and we want to protect him as much as we can". So this might be indeed something not extremely serious, but Zumaya and the Twins are playing it safe, because of his injury history.

A reference was made about the pain the Joe Nathan experience last season in Spring Training because of scar tissue being removed when pitching, a process that is helpful but painful. When Ryan was asked about that, he said "that would be ideal".

Again, it is a good possibility that this is the case. According to everyone he was throwing hard. The harder someone throws, the faster scar tissue breaks and the more painful it is. Danny Valencia is quoted by Phil Mackey saying "He was throwing gas, man,", Ryan said that "We may have to tone him down some."

It is entirely likely that Zumaya's discomfort is actually a good sign: scar tissue breakdown. I agree 100% with what Terry Ryan said, about Zumaya:

"Anytime a guy gets an MRI, there's got to be concern. But, I'm not going to overreact until the results come out. Let's hope it's not something serious."

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