La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Zumaya has a torn UCL, and it could be the final straw for him

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 26, 2012 - 1:47 PM

Reliever Joel Zumaya has a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament and will miss the entire 2012 season.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan said on Sunday that Zumaya will take a couple days off to ponder his future - not with the Twins, but with baseball in general. He's now had injuries up and down his right arm since breaking into the majors in 2006 and is very frustrated.

``I talked to him a little bit,'' Ryan said. ``He’s going to come in here in the next day or so. I’m not exactly sure what his approach, what he wants to do and so forth, I didn’t think that was the right time for me to discuss his future. But we all know those things are lengthy, and the rehab and the therapy and so forth is all of a year.

`` So I’ll wait to talk to him in the next day or so when he comes back to give you guys an idea of exactly what he thinks, where he’s at.''

To make sure, someone asked Ryan if he was talking about surgery versus rehab.

``No,'' Ryan said. ``I don’t think it’s even that. I think it’s more whether or not he wants to continue the battle.

Zumaya would need to have Tommy John surgery to repair the ligament. The Twins signed Zumaya to a one-year contract worth $850,000 with $900,000 more in incentives. But only $400,000 was guaranteed because Zumaya, because of shoulder and wrist injuries, hasn't pitched more than 38.2 innings in any season since 2006.

It was a low-risk, high-reward move. People who already are criticizing the Twins for this are off base. It was a chance to grab one of the most powerful arms in baseball history and it didn't work out. Losing $400,000 is nothing.

``Six, seven days into camp isn't exactly the scenario you want to look at,'' Ryan said. ``Let's say it happened three or four weeks later. That wouldn't be good either. If it happens, period, it isn't good. But I'll take the chance on occasion. Any general manager who has been in this chair for any length of time takes a chance on something, And if you don't take chances, you're probably in the wrong business.

``I'm much more conservative that a lot of general managers, I think that's safe to say. But I thought this was worth a chance after we did the MRIs and had our people look at him down in Houston. It's ironic he tore this ligament because that was one of the areas that he was healthy at.

``But when you have something break, then sometimes other things go too. That's the chance you're taking and that's the chance we took, I took. I'll take full responsibility for the decision. It just didn't work. It's as simple as that.''

 The Twins will not look outside the organization for bullpen help. They still have 32 pitchers in camp, and Ryan challenged them all Sunday to step up and take the innings they hoped to give Zumaya.

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