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Updated: March 4th, 2012 12:45pm
Reliever Joel Zumaya will undergo surgery to repair torn UCL

Reliever Joel Zumaya will undergo surgery to repair torn UCL

by Judd Zulgad
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Evidently Joel Zumaya isn't ready to pursue a career in professional fishing just yet.

The righthanded reliever has informed the Minnesota Twins that he has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery at the end of this month to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. The procedure will be peformed by noted surgeon James Andrews.

Rob Antony, the Twins' assistant general manager, said no decision has been made on whether Zumaya will return to do his rehab work with the team.

"He's going to be a free agent after this year," Antony said. "It's going to be a situation where I think Joel's probably going to be able to decide or determine what he wants to do as far as rehab goes and where he's most comfortable. We'll talk through it with him and his agent and figure out what the best course is."

Zumaya, 27, already has had two elbow surgeries, two shoulder surgeries and finger surgery since he broke into the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 2006.

Zumaya signed a one-year contract with the Twins this offseason that guaranteed him $400,000.

Zumaya was injured 13 pitches into his first live pitching session of the spring when he threw a curveball to catcher Drew Butera.

Zumaya remains on the Twins roster and the team has not discussed exactly what course of action they plan to take in that regard. The Twins have until Opening Day to decide whether to release Zumaya or place him on 60-day disabled list.

Antony said that Zumaya and Twins general manager Terry Ryan had a couple of conversations about whether the pitcher should undergo another procedure.

"I think Terry basically told him, 'It's your career. You need to figure out what you want to do,'" Antony said. "His initial reaction, I think he was very discouraged, disappointed and he told you guys, 'This might be it for me.'

"After he took some time to think about it, his agent said it, he came to the determination that, 'You know what? I've been through a lot, but right now I think I want to keep my options open and I'm going to have the surgery and see if I can come back. Give it another shot.'"

Zumaya is an accomplished fisherman and mentioned that he might pursue a career in that sport in the days after he was injured. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Drew Butera, Joel Zumaya