The most striking thing about the Detroit Tigers’ Friday morning training was Michael Fulmer’s arms.
Not just his right arm, but both arms. After a bullpen session in front of Comerica Park Hill – his first there since September 2018 – he took off his training uniform to run sprints in the left field.
Fulmer wore a cut shirt and showed that it is certainly the best thing he ever saw as a Big Leaguer, even if he wasn’t in the best shape of his life.
“I would say close,” he said on the first day of the summer camp. “Maybe I was a little better in shape on my high school basketball days, but those were my six-minute miles. I don’t think I could do it anymore. “
Fulmer, who underwent reconstruction of the right elbow band in March 2019, has been released for baseball activities and has recently thrown bullpens. Although he is going through most of his rehabilitation process, there is still no schedule for his return.
In recent years, pitchers have been granted rehabilitation stays with injuries in small leagues in order to adjust to the big leagues. However, there are no smaller leagues this season that have been eliminated by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Given the excitement surrounding the team’s top pitching prospects, who are on the 60-man squad and may be debuting this season, there is only one major hurdle: the starting rotation is currently full.
In a 60-game season, minor injuries may become more serious injuries. The tigers have no excess depth. On the other hand, pitchers with a significantly shortened season could have a better chance of staying healthy, which would provide fewer innings.
Fulmer said the Tigers hadn’t talked to him about throwing the bullpen, but that certainly seems like a possibility. That doesn’t mean that his future lies in the bullpen, but it could be an easy way to get him back into play.
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“You didn’t tell me anything,” he said. “I probably said 10-15 words to (manager Ron Gardenhire) today as I passed him and then (pitching trainer Rick Anderson), obviously he was out there for my bullpen session, but we mainly talked about the bullpen -Session spoken. Not much since, but I just want to do everything I can to help the team. Ultimately, it’s just a personal goal to stay healthy all year round.
“Whether that’s in the rotation, of course I’d like to be there, but whatever (Gardenhire) says goes to me and I’m fine with everything.”
Fulmer is a starter. And he has the upper hand against the best prospects of the team: he is a proven pitcher, a veteran voice in the clubhouse and is also on the 40-man squad.
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It is unclear how much weight Fulmer lost, but it is significant, which will surely improve the status of his left knee, which has been surgically repaired three times.
“I just feel more efficient,” he said. “I feel like I’m using my body better, putting less strain on my elbow and less on my knee, just to be more efficient and not so violent. I put my body in the best position. “
It was only a bullpen session, but Fulmer’s return to where he had made a name for himself as a front starter went well – except for one place.
“My first place was down and away,” he said. “‘So I dropped the ball and wanted to go, but (Anderson) said I have to stay 20 or more.”
Contact Anthony Fenech at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech. Read more about the Detroit Tigers and subscribe to our Tigers newsletter.