All Zumaya Linking

You’ve probably all heard that Joel Zumaya just won’t give up Guitar Hero.If you want my feelings on this, Roar of the Tigers has summed them up perfectly.

The issue is no longer whether or not Guitar Hero is indeed the sole source of his arm trouble. The point is that it MIGHT contribute, that the trainers have some inkling that it can do so, that they have TOLD Zoom about this, so he is AWARE of the issue, and he STILL INSISTS ON PLAYING THE BLOODY GAME.


Joel Zumaya at spring training
Joel Zumaya – credit Roger DeWitt

I’m not even that bothered that he missed the A’s series last year. I can understand a situation where after the first time they say – “Joel, I think this video game is messing with your wrist” and Joel thinking “No way.”

He’s young and full of confidence and it is certainly understandable. But after the recurrence in the playoffs, maybe the light bulb should have gone on. The risk-reward proposition here just doesn’t seem worth it. I’m certainly not hating on Zumaya. I just want Joel to have a long and successful career, hopefully for the Tigers. And what may be missing from the story is mention of the various wrist strengthening exercises that Joel may be doing to guard against this – in case it is the fact he grips the ball too hard.

That’s not to say he doesn’t care about performing well. He’s been in Lakeland a couple weeks already. And via Jason Beck there was an interesting NY times piece about Joel Zumaya, Barry Zito, and others using yoga and meditation as a regular part of their offseason regimen. I knew that Zito and Zumaya had trained together a couple years ago and that Zumaya added speed because of these works outs. I didn’t know this is what those workouts were, and still are.

And finally some neat stories from Jon Paul Morosi today about when last seasons success all sank in. Oh yeah, and Zumaya is engaged.

UPDATE: I neglected to include this link to D-Town baseball which opines on whether Zumaya should be starting or in the pen. Up until the drafting of Andrew Miller and emergence of Jurrjens and Vasquez I thought he should at least be given a shot as a starter. Right now that need doesn’t seem as pressing so I’m content with him in his current high leverage-multi inning role. But I have heard of some talk that he might be looked at as a starter again.


  1. jvwalt

    February 14, 2007 at 10:58 am

    If Zumaya is playing “Guitar Hero” seven hours a day, then maybe we have grounds to be upset. If he’s moderated his playtime, or if he has consulted the team trainer/doctor about it, then I see no problem whatsoever. I would think that, if the team believes “GH” contributed to his arm trouble, they would be advising him about safe air-guitar techniques. There’s not enough in that GR Press article to trigger my panic button.

  2. wyrmer

    February 14, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    jvwalt makes a good point. To begin with, he has said he’s cut back. And two, if GH caused such serious injuries (since there are plenty of people who have more free time than a MLB player to obliterate their wrists), I think we’d hear of something similar to the Wii remote “recall”. I’d like all these pressheads to actually play the game for once and see what sort of impact it has on your hand/wrist/forearm (which is negligible, unless you’re really really getting into your rocking) before chastising it.

  3. Thinking Man

    February 14, 2007 at 12:25 pm


    I go back and forth on how Zoom should be used. The way the Tigers are set up, it makes sense to groom him for the closer’s role. He is a young Goose Gossage if ever there was one.
    The other part of me says that his arm will get used up quick as a short reliever. Most closers don’t have long careers. In general, I think the position is over-valued anyway. A top-flight starter, I think, has much more value over the long haul. Now, there is no guarantee that he wont blow out his arm as a starter. But how about a staff of Verlander, Bondo, Miller and Zoom? If they all stayed healthy and perform likes everyone thinks they will, it would make the Tigers a championship threat every year for a decade.

  4. Ed

    February 14, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I’m thinking Zoom should be left to middle/short relief. Consider that he’ll probably have to lay off the speed as a starter to last any decent length of time in that role and it doesn’t seem a worthwhile move. He’s fantastic at the later innings and is equally great as a set-up man. If he’s given three or even four innings late he keeps his arm reasonably loose still and he gives the Tigers a solid reliever. (Minor, Ledezma and Rodney, though all young too, seemed to struggle more in their relief duties than Zumaya did.) I’m not convinced that his arm will get used up in a hurry as a middle/short reliever; I think it would make him last much longer and make him a more valuable commodity as he gets more experience.

    As for the GH playing issue, I’m with jvwalt and wyrmer. I’m sure the trainers have this all figured out.

  5. Jojo SunDevil

    February 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    NO WAY!! Zumaya should be a starter. Zumaya is a hard thrower, and hes still only 21. To make him a starter and have him learning how to change speeds with that kind of arm strength, would potentially lead to arm damage.

    He is best used, for now at least, as either a set up man or a closer. He has great speeds on his fastball and slider. One inning and the other team doesn’t know what him.

    But starter no way. Verlander is different because he knows how to pitch long innnings as he has developed three or four pitches. But Zoom Zoom is a straight up hard thrower.

    As for the video game, can we all pitch in and get this kid a Nintendo and RBI baseball. He’ll be totally addicted, just as we were when we were kids. I got $5 on it.

  6. ripismoney

    February 14, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Having received Guitar Hero for Christmas, I can honestly say that I could have cared less about my carpal tunnel that was developing in my left right — it was too fun to put down. Zumaya should be okay if he moderates his playing time, however, regardless of whether the game affects him at all. And I’m all for him staying in the pen — we already have a solid rotation, and at 100 mph and 21 years old, we should at least be able to keep one of our arms from breaking down early in the career from overuse.

  7. Andy in WB

    February 15, 2007 at 1:42 am

    First of all, there is no proof that Guitar Hero was the reason for his arm problem. Second, as a starter he would have to relearn how to pace himself, which is easier said than done. And Third, he likes his role, has himself mentally prepared for his role, at 21 he has the chance to become THE MOST DOMINATING set up man or closer ever. If you don’t believe me, just read anything about Mariano Rivera and how he thinks he’s unappreciated.

    Going back to the Guitar Hero thing, Zoom said it was because he was gripping the ball to hard. Tigers couldn’t find a definate reason so it’s better to tell the world that it was because of the game than saying “we don’t know” why (I read that in the paper I think). I can totally believe the gripping the ball too hard, just clench your fist over and over again, your forearm will get sore.

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  9. billfer

    February 15, 2007 at 5:24 am

    First – yes I have never played the game so I don’t know what kind of impact it has. I have also never had the ability to throw the ball 100mph and go the World Series at 21 (which most haven’t) so I can’t fully appreciate what it’s like to be facing a career that will earn me millions either.

    What we know is the injury isn’t typical of pitchers, but it is of guitar players. I don’t know that the game causes the injury, but what if it does?

    I don’t care how fun the game is, and I’ve never chastised the game. What I don’t get is why a player would bring unnecessary risk on themselves.

  10. Sam

    February 15, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Zoom-Zoom is an Idiot!

    OK, so he is going to have to produce 3 more solid years until he gets the multimillion dollar contract (if he is worth a long term deal at that point – ala Bonderman). It will be at least 5 more years until free agency.

    If there is a remote chance that this air guitar game is going to jeopardize his value, why would he do it?? He just got engaged; he will be just a blip on the screen of baseball history and will not set himself for life if he continues to have arm problems.

    For his sake, he should quit the game for the next 3 years!


  11. Ryan S

    February 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    As someone mildly addicted to Guitar Hero, I can definitely say that after a half hour of so, my right hand and forearm start to cramp up a bit. Let’s hope that Zoom can show some restraint.

    As for the starter/reliever debate, I can’t see the Tigers wanting to start all over, so to speak, with him. He’s admitted in the past that the velocity he’s capable of isn’t something he can sustain for more than a couple of innings. That said, he’d have to learn a whole new style of pitching (not to mention a few new pitches). With the incredible success he had last year, I wouldn’t want to risk the confidence he’s gained by trying to switch him over. He has the potential to be the most dominant reliever in the game. I’ll take that over the risk of messing him up with a major change in style.

  12. jdurb56

    February 15, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Guitar Hero Zumay,

    He should be smart. He is being paid by an organization a good dollar much more than where you could end up if he has further problems.

    Lay off for a while to see what happens.

    If he is gripping the ball as hard as he says when pitching, when will that also come into play causing more of an injury.

    I wish him luck, but if there is any question in Detroit’s mind they should have him back off and see.

    They cannot play in any pick up games for charity in the off season without permission due to being afraid of an injury.
    Detroit apparantly is willing to take the risk.