DETROIT -- With the California wildfires closing in on his
parents' house, Joel Zumaya went up to the attic and tried to
salvage a few things for his father.
Moments later, his 2008 season was in jeopardy.
A heavy box fell on top of the Detroit Tigers reliever, injuring
his pitching shoulder and forcing him to have major surgery
Wednesday in San Diego. He is expected to be sidelined until
"You think he'll be back, but I can't 100 percent count on
that," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said
Thursday. "We can't count on that contribution this year. We have
to plan our staff without him being there."
The Tigers hoped to re-sign closer Todd Jones, with the
understanding that he might lose his job later in the season to
Zumaya. If they weren't able to bring back the free agent, Zumaya
had a shot to be Detroit's closer.
"Now, we can't count on that," Dombrowski said. "If it's not
Todd, we have to be aggressive to find somebody to pitch on the
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Jones called it a
"miserable day'' for the Tigers.
"He can't be replaced easily,'' Jones wrote.
Zumaya is being told to rest his shoulder for six weeks and
refrain from a throwing program until March.
His 100 mph fastballs helped the Tigers reach the 2006 World
Series, and the giant flame tattoos on both his arms helped make
him a star in the Motor City.
He told the Tigers he was injured while moving personal items
"He said a box fell on his shoulder," Dombrowski said. "The
fires were approximately 2 miles from his home, where he lives with
his parents, and his dad has a broken leg and wanted some items
from the attic.
"He reached up to grab one box and a heavy one on top of it
fell directly on his shoulder.
"At first, he didn't think it was that bad," Dombrowski added.
"But the pain became more and more and that's when Mr. Zumaya
said, 'We have to call the Tigers.'"
Zumaya was limited to 28 games this year because of surgery on a
tendon in his middle finger. He was 2-3 with a 4.28 ERA and the
Tigers went 88-74, finishing second in the AL Central.
As a rookie in 2006, Zumaya was a big reason the Tigers won the
AL pennant for the first time in more than two decades. He was 6-3
with a 1.94 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 62 appearances.
Detroit acquired All-Star shortstop Edgar Renteria earlier this
week, filling a pressing need -- only to find out soon after it had
"My jubilation turned into a lot of concern," Dombrowski said.
The pitcher was downtrodden, too.
"He must've apologized, in a five-minute conversation, 25
times," Dombrowski said.