With the California wildfires within a couple miles of his house, Joel Zumaya was helping his family remove belongings from their home when a heavy box toppled on his pitching shoulder. A popping noise came from his acromioclavicular joint, which connects the collar bone and shoulder blade, and put the young right-hander's career in peril.
By the middle of last week, Zumaya had undergone surgery to reconstruct the damaged AC joint and begun what will be a difficult rehab program.
"I'm sick to my stomach," Zumaya told the Detroit Free Press. "The last couple days, I haven't slept at all. My career could be done. It's real sickening. I can't believe this happened.
"It's scary, man. I'm going to be 23 in a couple days, and I never thought I'd deal with something like this."
General manager Dave Dombrowski is hopeful Zumaya can get back to Detroit but concedes he's not sure how many pitchers have come back from this particular injury, given its severity.
"If there's been any, there haven't been many," Dombrowski said.
But Zumaya vowed, "I will be the first pitcher to recover 100 percent from this surgery."
Dr. Bruce Miller, an orthopedic surgeon and team physician at the University of Michigan, is also optimistic.
"Because this injury does not involve the shoulder joint, per se, the things we most worry about in the shoulder -- the rotator cuff, the labrum, the biceps -- tend not to be affected by the surgery," said Miller. "The prognosis is quite good that he'll make a recovery.
Zumaya, meanwhile, knows that it's out of his hands. "It's in God's hands now," he said, "and I have faith."
Mets exercise option on Alou: The New York Mets exercised the option they had on outfielder Moises Alou, meaning the 41-year-old outfielder will return to the team in 2008. Alou hit .341 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs in 87 games. He also set a franchise record with a 30-game hitting streak.
Alou said he is excited to return to the Mets next season, having some "unfinished business" to attend to.
"After what happened to us, I really want another shot at winning a world championship," Alou told mets.com. "I really want to achieve the things I came here for. ... Hopefully,  will be our year.
"I'm angry at what happened last year, and our fans deserved better. I'm coming back to help us win a championship. From the first day of Spring Training, we have to show people that 2008 will be different."
Alou, who battled through injuries in 2007, has already started to work out and his goal is to play in 140 games next season.
"I want to make sure I'm 100 percent healthy and strong, and be in the best shape I've ever been in my career," Alou said.
Abreu back with Yankees in 2008: Bobby Abreu will return to the New York Yankees in 2008 after the team picked up his option.
"He just wanted to make sure with everything that was going on that Bobby still wanted to be a Yankee," Abreu's agent, Peter Greenberg, told Newsday about general manager Brian Cashman's call to Abreu to make sure he wanted to return to New York. "He definitely wanted to be here, and Brian said, 'Well, we want you back.' ... Bobby, I think, liked Joe Torre a lot. I think Joe Torre really stuck with him last year, gave him the confidence to get back on track. But the change in manager, that doesn't really have anything to do with him. That's up to management. Bobby has his own job to do."
Abreu hit .283 with 16 homers and 101 RBIs, with most of those numbers coming in the final four months of the season when he hit .309 with 14 home runs and 79 RBIs. The 101 RBIs marks the fifth straight season he has top the century mark in RBIs.
"Bobby Abreu possesses a unique skill set and has proven to be a durable and reliable asset to this club," Cashman said in a written release. "Consistency has been a hallmark throughout his career, and we are excited to work with him again as we look forward to the 2008 season."
Mets happy with Wright at third: With rumors circulating that the New York Mets might interested in free agent Alex Rodriguez, general manager Omar Minaya made sure David Wright understands that the team is thrilled that he is their third baseman.
"I will tell you we are very happy with David Wright as our third baseman," Minaya told Newsday. "Put it this way: We feel that we have one of the best young players and one of the best young third basemen in the game today. We are very, very pleased with him as we speak today."
Wright, in a text message, wrote "Everything is great," when asked about his current situation and Rodriguez.
Closer Cordero testing the waters: Coming off a season in which he converted 44 of 51 save opportunities, closer Francisco Cordero is one of the top free agent relievers this offseason.
"We've got some parameters but we haven't even told (general manager) Doug (Melvin) yet," Bean Stringfellow, Cordero's agent, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about what type of deal they are looking for. "There's a lot of interest in Francisco. We've had numerous phone calls already."
Melvin would love to have Cordero back in 2008. He has traded for him twice now in his career, the first time when he was the general manager for Texas and the second time with Milwaukee. Cordero, however, wants to test the market before signing any deal with the Brewers.
"Francisco has a sincere interest in coming back," said Stringfellow. "That team has been built to win for a long time, and he liked it there. At the same time, he does want to see what's out there."
Francoeur marries high school sweetheart: Jeff Francoeur married high school sweetheart Catie McCoy Saturday night in front of 500 guests at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead. Francoeur's new father-in-law has no doubts about his new relative.
"We've known Jeff since the third grade," Malcolm McCoy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly before the wedding of the weekend. "He's already part of the family. I'm not nervous at all."
The celebration has been in the works since Francoeur and Catie McCoy got engaged last fall, her father said.
"It's been a lot -- a lot of preparation for this day," Malcolm McCoy said. "The minute they got engaged, I think they started working on it."
Teammates Brian McCann and Clint Sammons were groomsman for Francoeur. Part of the pre-wedding celebrations included a dinner at the 755 Club, a special events facility located within Turner Field. Guests got to tour the field and locker room.
McCoy said there was a large banner wrapped around part of the stadium wishing congratulations to the bride and groom.
Dodgers' Gonzalez could be back: Free agent Luis Gonzalez earlier indicated there was no way he was going to return to the Dodgers next season. But with the team hiring Joe Torre as its new manager, Gonzalez has changed his mind.
"This is no knock against Grady," Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times, referring to former manager Grady Little, who resigned Tuesday. "But the credibility that Joe and his coaches bring is definitely intriguing."
Gonzalez said he would not be the only free agent to re-consider the Dodgers now that Torre runs the club.
"I think it intrigues a lot of players that they hired a manager of the caliber of Joe," Gonzalez said. "I think it makes a huge difference. He's been in how many World Series? He's done it on both sides, as a player and as a manager. Players go through struggles, he's been there, done that. Everyone who's played for him respects him.
Guillen now ready for 'two new cars': The Mariners declined their end of the mutual option on Jose Guillen, deciding instead to give him a $500,000 buyout clause. Guillen was unlikely to pick up his end of the mutual option as he is looking for a long-term deal. The unique contract allows Guillen a player option to come back to the club at a far lesser salary than he earned in 2007, but the outfielder is extremely unlikely to invoke that clause. Still, he has no hard feelings towards the Mariners or general manager Bill Bavasi.
"They just gave me a half-million for no reason," Guillen told the Seattle Times. "Maybe I can go buy two new cars with the half-million. You can thank [general manager] Bill Bavasi for me."
The Mariners also refused an option on pitcher Chris Reitsma.
"Declining the options on Jose [Guillen] and Chris [Reitsma] gives us more flexibility as we plan our 2008 roster," Bavasi said.
"In Jose's case, this puts the ball in his court. He can choose to exercise his option with us or go to free agency. With both players, if it becomes apparent that they're a good fit for us in 2008, we can still negotiate with them as free agents."
Guillen is hoping to land a multi-year deal similar to those that outfielders Gary Matthews, Juan Pierre and Eric Byrnes signed recently.
"No doubt, I'm going to decline everything," he said.
Twins will compete to get Silva back: Carlos Silva, who last season won 13 games with an ERA just over 4.00, is someone the Minnesota Twins would like to bring back for the 2008 season -- and they plan to do what they can to make that happen.
"We'd like to have the veteran presence," Twins General Manager Bill Smith told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "He has been a good player for us, he's a good person in the clubhouse and a good member of this team. We would like to keep him."
And, added Smith, he believes that Silva would like to be back with the Twins.
"I can guarantee you that there's no team that can offer Carlos Silva the intangibles that the Minnesota Twins can," said Smith. "He's got a manager he likes. He's got a pitching coach he likes a lot. A strength and conditioning coach that got him on a program this year that I think helped him a lot. He has a family here in the Twin Cities. He owns a home here in the Twin Cities."
So, concluded Smith, the Twins plan to go after him.
"We are going to compete and try to get him signed," he said.
Schilling puts Cardinals on prospects list: Curt Schilling, who has a list of 13 teams for whom he'd pitch in 2008, was contacted last week by the St. Louis Cardinals about playing in St. Louis next year after making comments on KSLG 1380 Radio about such a scenario.
"I wanted to let him know we appreciated being on the list and made a call to tell him we were going to do our due diligence and we're interested in talking to him," St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Speaking on the radio, Schilling said "If it doesn't work out in Boston, St. Louis is definitely one of those places" where he would consider landing.
"I've always been an enormous fan of the Cardinals organization and the Cardinals' fan base," Schilling continued. "Win, lose or draw, the Cardinals fans are passionate about the Cardinals. There is really a family type of atmosphere, a Midwest atmosphere, and I was a fan of that."
Hunter still keeping an eye on Twins: Torii Hunter has filed for free agency but that doesn't preclude rejoining the Twins.
"It's not necessarily goodbye to the Twins because I filed for free agency," Hunter told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I'm still watching to see what they do."
Former Twin Bert Blyleven, who is currently a Twins TV analyst, says that this situation reminds him some of when Kirby Pucket found himself in the same boat several years ago.
"It's Torii's right to be a free agent," Blyleven. "He's worked his tail off to get there. And the thing about Torii is he plays hurt. He's just a gamer, as Puck was.
"The things [Hunter] does off the field, you can't really put a monetary value on that, with his attitude and what he means to the guys in the clubhouse."
And for that reason, added Blyleven, he hopes that the two sides can come to an agreement.
"Hopefully, we can come around and match or come close to whatever else [Hunter] gets out there, and maybe let Torii decide then," he said. "As long as the Twins are in the picture, I think that will help the fans, knowing the Twins gave their best effort."
Easley re-ups for another year with Mets: The New York Mets and Damion Easley agreed to a one-year contract. Easley was having a great season for the Mets in 2007 before suffering an ankle sprain in August. He hit .280 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 193 at-bats.
He started 36 games at second base, eight in the outfield and two at first base.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya called Easley "one of the best bench players," and he said that manager "Willie [Randolph] wanted him all along," mets.com reported.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.