Zumaya elects to have Tommy John surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Joel Zumaya informed the Twins he will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow at the end of the month, assistant general manager Rob Antony said today.

Zumaya tore his ulnar collateral ligament on Feb. 25 while throwing a live batting practice session on a practice field at the Lee County Sports Complex.

Zumaya, 27, was debating whether to have the surgery and attempt another comeback or retire, but ultimately decided to go with the operation with Dr. James Andrews. But Zumaya has yet to decide if he’ll rehab with the Twins or on his own.

“We haven’t figured all that out yet,” Antony said. “We just talked to his agent last night. He just called me and said that after thinking about it that he’d like to see Dr. Andrews and he’d like to have the surgery at the end of March. I spoke with [head trainer] Rick McWane this morning and he’s going to set it up with Dr. Andrews tomorrow.”

Zumaya has been plagued by injuries since his rookie season with the Tigers in ’06, as he has missed time with a finger injury that forced him to miss 96 games in 2007, a shoulder injury in 2008 that cost him 72 games and another shoulder injury in ’08 that caused him to miss 41 games before undergoing shoulder surgery in ’09.

This will be his third operation on his elbow, as he had surgery after fracturing his elbow while pitching for the Tigers against the Twins on June 28, 2010, and had follow-up surgery last year that forced him to miss all of last season.

As of now, Zumaya is still on the club’s 40-man roster. The Twins have until Opening Day to decide to release him or place him on the 60-day disabled list. He’s set to earn only $400,000 of the one-year, $850,000 deal he signed this offseason because he failed to make the Opening Day roster.

“We haven’t done anything with the roster spot,” Antony said. “We don’t have to do anything until Opening Day. In fact, you can’t place a player on the 60-day DL in less you’re making a corresponding move and need that roster spot. The only way he’d be a free agent immediately is if we release him but we haven’t discussed that yet.”

Either way, Antony said the Twins are on the hook for the surgery and rehab.

“We’re responsible for it,” Antony said. “He got hurt pitching for us so we’ll take care of all the medical expenses and rehab and everything.”

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