Zumaya begins minors stint, throws 24 pitches in two-inning outing

Updated: June 3, 2008, 11:57 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya took a successful step in his path back to the majors, throwing two pitches of at least 100 mph during two scoreless innings for Single-A Lakeland on Tuesday night.

Zumaya made his first rehab outing since having surgery on his right shoulder in the offseason.

"I wasn't really watching the radar," Zumaya said. "But it was nice to see that I could still throw hard after the surgery. I knew I could throw hard, but that was nice and I am ready to go again."

Zumaya threw 24 pitches, 18 for strikes, against the Sarasota Reds. He allowed a leadoff double, then retired the next three batters, one on a strikeout. His final warmup pitch registered 100 miles per hour on the scoreboard, and he was in the high 90s throughout his stint. In the second inning, he again hit triple digits.

He was expected to pitch only one inning, but went out for a second. After walking the leadoff batter, Zumaya got a strikeout and induced a double play to end the eighth inning.

Zumaya was expected to be a key part of the Detroit bullpen in 2008, but underwent shoulder surgery after a freak accident.

With wildfires threatening his home in Chula Vista, Calif., Zumaya was hurriedly removing treasured items from the attic. Unaware he was holding two boxes above his head at once, the top one slid off and slammed into his pitching shoulder.

Before that, Zumaya missed much of the 2007 season after having surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger in May.

Last season, Zumaya went 2-3 in 28 games before the finger injury. In 2006, he pitched in 62 games and three more in the World Series. Tigers manager Jim Leyland has said that he expects Zumaya to make at least two more appearances in Lakeland before he is ready to return to the majors.

"I just do what they tell me to do," Zumaya said. "Every pitch counts and I am just going to keep working on what I have to do with my changeup. I know I can throw hard, but I have learned I need a changeup, so I might not hit 100 every time. Everything feels fine right now, so we'll see where they send me."

Zumaya said he has been keeping an eye on the Tigers and their struggles, but he said he is impressed with the bullpen in Detroit.

"I want to be there in October," Zumaya said. "I want to be a part of it."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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