Every so often, we get an unfortunate reminder that the human arm was not designed to throw a baseball at speeds that approach or reach triple digits on the gun.
The latest came on Monday night, as Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya(notes) crumpled to the ground after delivering a 99 mph fastball — his 14th pitch of the night — to Delmon Young(notes) in a 7-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.
With Zumaya's right thumb involuntarily twitching and teammate Miguel Cabrera(notes) looking on with major concern, the scene was as scary as they come. It was so frightening, in fact, that it immediately caused some people to bring up the sobering reminder of Dave Dravecky's broken arm as Zumaya, the flamethrowing pitcher, was helped off the mound at Target Field.
The type and severity of Zumaya's injury won't be known until after an MRI on Tuesday. But given his frequent arm troubles and the pain he appeared to be in, it's hard to remain optimistic. Because of unlucky health problems ranging from a moving box falling on his shoulder to his famous Guitar Hero boo-boo to rupturing a tendon, Zumaya hasn't pitched more than 40 innings in one year since his breakout season in 2006.
He was poised to pass that 40-inning mark this season and has played a big part in the Tigers' success with a 2.63 ERA out of the bullpen. But his season is now in severe jeopardy with an injury that clouded Detroit's joy on a night they moved back into first place in the AL Central for the first time since May 20. (Zumaya, by the way, declined comment through a Tigers spokesman after the game.)
"It's not good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said regarding Zumaya's injury. "I wasn't sure exactly what happened, we're still not exactly sure. I don't think it does us any good to speculate at this time, but it obviously doesn't look good. It's an awful bad feeling when you see something like that happen to anybody."
Indeed, if you were watching the game on Monday night, you're thinking exactly what Leyland just said and you're hoping that Zumaya hears the best news possible on Tuesday morning.
But, again, it doesn't look good. Zumaya's arm was in a sling after the game and the AP reports that catcher Gerald Laird(notes) (who said he heard "a pop") was encouraging him by saying the 25-year-old would be throwing again in seven or eight months.
We'll pass on more details as soon as they become available.