Tigers ace Michael Fulmer back on the mound after 12-day break

March 8, 2018 GMT

Bradenton, Fla. — Michael Fulmer is ready. This time. Almost for sure, he’s ready.

The Tigers’ ace right-hander will make his second spring start Friday in Lakeland against his former team, the Mets. It will be 12 days since he made his first spring start.

“I am excited to get back out there,” he said. “The way the last one felt, I shouldn’t have any problems. We’ve put in the time in the training room and the weight room, just making sure I am ready. I think I will be.

“There’s no doubt about it, actually.”

Well, there’s a little bit of doubt. Fulmer felt fine after his 23-pitch outing back on Feb. 26. But after he threw a bullpen two days later, his right elbow swelled, his throwing program was stopped for a couple of days and his next start was pushed back.

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“I felt some tightness in my triceps and they wanted to get everything done and work on it a little bit,” Fulmer said. “The next morning it was swollen and I lost some range of motion. So they gave me a couple of days off from throwing to see how that went.”

It went well. The swelling went down and he resumed his throwing program. The Tigers ordered up an MRI just as a precaution and that came back clean — just a fluid buildup in the elbow.

“I basically just skipped one start,” he said. “I still have four left so I should be able to get my pitches in and be ready for the season.”

Important to note that this soreness was unrelated to the ulnar nerve transposition surgery he had last September. It was related, Fulmer said, to him trying to get more bite on his slider.

“I was trying to get more depth on it and I think maybe I wasn’t throwing it like I usually do,” he said. “I think maybe I hyper-extended my elbow a little bit trying to cast it out and get more depth on it — trying to yank down on it pretty hard. That’s what I think it’s from.”

Fulmer threw a full bullpen on Tuesday, threw plenty of sliders, and felt no residual soreness afterward.

“I just stopped trying to do too much with it,” he said. “It’ll get there. Everything is fine. If this same thing had happened during the season, I probably wouldn’t have even missed a start.”

Fulmer doesn’t know how long he will go Friday, but he would like to get up and down for three innings. He threw 45 pitches in his last bullpen, so he will need some quick innings to do that.