Joel Zumaya’s MRI Results Released


Per the official Detroit Tigers Twitter account, Joel Zumaya will miss the remainder of the season with a non-displaced fracture in his elbow.

“Non-displaced” means that the bone has broken but the fragments remain in alignment. Due to the non-displaced nature of the injury, Zumaya may avoid surgery. According to Dr. Jonathan Cluett, recovery time is about 12 weeks. It remains to be seen if that recovery time is sufficient to return a flamethrowing reliever to full health. (more after the jump)

ADDED by John Parent-

Prior to seeing the news today, I had never even heard of the olecranon. Now that I know what it is, it appears that the biggest issues may lie down the road for Zumaya.

While it’s true that Zumaya’s injury could mean he can avoid surgery, it is unclear at this time (and likely will remain unclear until much further down the line) whether or not he will ever regain full range of motion in the elbow. Frequently, people who suffer this type of injury, even in non-displaced fractures, will lose anywhere from 10-20% of the range of motion in their elbow.

Obviously, this would make it very difficult for Zumaya to return as the same type of pitcher, if he could return at all.

None of this takes into account the mental aspects of having your elbow explode during the delivery of a pitch, which is something that will be difficult to overcome even if he is medically able to throw again. How many of us could “let it go” fully when trying to hurl a baseball at upwards of 90 mph, knowing full well the kind of pain that you went through once before?

While initial reports looked like this might be good news (and it still might), I have to wonder if the better news wouldn’t have been a torn ligament. At least with those injuries, there is a track record of success in coming back.

There are no guarantees and very few assurances that Zumaya will ever return from this injury. But here’s hoping he can.

Update – Fox Sports Detroit has an AP update that says team doctors are optimistic that Zumaya could pitch next year.