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Zumaya and Sizemore can’t shake the injury curse

by Matt Smith

It’s the sort of news that Spring Training produces most years but never becomes easier to read. While the majority are looking ahead to a season of endless possibilities, one or two players are already bemoaning their bad luck.

Few players have suffered the misfortune endured by Joel Zumaya in recent years. The former Detroit Tiger has battled through a catalogue of injuries and came into camp this year with the Minnesota Twins hoping that a change of scenery would bring a change of fortune.

Just 13 pitches into a pitching session on Saturday, Zumaya walked off the mound in pain. The Twins confirmed the next day that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Baseball fans are all too familiar with what that means: Tommy John surgery and a year on the sidelines. 

In Zumaya’s case, it could be even worse. He has struggled to stay on the field since he dazzled with his blazing fastball in his rookie season of 2006. After all he has been through since, there comes a point where it’s difficult to have much confidence that his body can cope with the intense demands that throwing a fastball at or near triple digits puts on him. 

Additionally, there must come a point where Zumaya himself simply feels that one further round of a long and lonely recovery from surgery without any guarantee of a Major League return is one more time too many. We don’t yet know whether he will go under the knife and attempt yet another comeback. It will be a difficult decision and one which you have to feel sad about Zumaya having to face.

Zumaya isn’t the only player in the AL Central making an unwanted attempt at winning the 2012 Spring Training ‘Owen Hargreaves of baseball’ award.

Even the most optimistic Indians fan would have been cautious at expecting too much from Grady Sizemore once it was announced that he would be returning to the team. Cleveland unsurprisingly declined their $8.5m 2012 option on ther oft-injured outfielder, but they brought him back for a lesser sum in the hope that he might  put the injury blues behind him at last and in the knowledge that it wouldn’t cost them so much if he didn’t. 

Spring Training had barely got underway before Sizemore suffered a setback, this time a lower back strain, that had the Indians warning that he is unlikely to be fit by Opening Day. Cleveland would be more than happy to trade a late start to the season by Sizemore if he is then able to be healthy for the rest of the campaign. However, based on the last couple of years, that doesn’t seem very likely.

Injuries are part of every sport. That fact doesn’t make it any less depressing to read about Zumaya and Sizemore struggling again though. 

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