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Fulmer light-headed, departs after 74 pitches

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Tigers manager Brad Ausmus thought rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer might have been dealing with a dead arm Wednesday night.

“He was trying to add on (to the velocity) and he was yanking the ball, coming across his body,” he said.

That’s not how Fulmer described it. He said he got light-headed, dizzy, in the humidity after the first inning.

“I just kind of woke up this morning not feeling the best,” he said. “I should’ve done a better job of executing my pitches, get some quick innings in, but I tried to ease up a little bit, not overexert myself.

“It was just a little shortness of breath, trying to catch my breath. But like I said, the bullpen did a great job tonight, and the ultimate goal is to get a win, and we did that tonight.”

The Tigers did beat the Mariners, 5-1, and the bullpen pitched 4 2/3 innings of perfect baseball (no hits, no walks, no runners). But the immediate concern was Fulmer.

“I was trying to save a little tonight, really locate my pitches, but I kept yanking everything,” Fulmer said “I don’t know how many sliders I threw for strikes, honestly. Just didn’t have — didn’t feel all there tonight.”

He doesn’t expect any lingering effects.

“No, no, not at all,” he said. “We’ll see tomorrow, and hopefully everything gets back to normal.”

The Tigers are in the process of implementing a plan to limit Fulmer’s innings through the All-Star break. As Ausmus said before the game, they hope by being proactive about it now, they won’t be forced to shut him down later in the year when the team might be in a playoff chase.

He was limited to 74 pitches Wednesday, after throwing 100 in the dense heat in Kansas City on Friday.

“It’s not going to change,” Ausmus said. “This (start) won’t change the immediate future. But, two upsides: He only ended up giving up one run, and he had a short outing, which is a silver lining, I guess, in the sense that it can help us in controlling his innings.”

Fulmer said Ausmus has spoken to him about then possibility of an innings limit, though apparently he’s not yet aware that he will be skipped the next time his turn comes up in the rotation.

“We talked a little bit about it yesterday, while I was shagging BP (batting practice),” Fulmer said. “Just was asking how my body felt, and I said ‘It feels great.’ And he said, ‘OK, we’re going to try to limit you a little bit,’ but there’s no innings cap, nothing like that.

“They’re just going to kind of see how I feel.”

And his response to the idea?

“I just do what I’m told,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly what the plan is…But I’ll do anything the team needs. If that’s not pitch for a while, then I’ll not pitch for a while. If it’s pitch every fifth day until the end of the season, I’ll do that.

“I’ve got no problems. I feel healthy. Arm feels great, and just keep piling up wins for this team.”

Lock it down

Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth inning Wednesday, even though it wasn’t a save situation and he had pitched the two previous games and warmed up four times in the extra-inning loss on Sunday.

Ausmus explained why.

“It was really a situation with a four-run lead, you send someone (else) out there, and they get two guys on, you have to get K-Rod up anyway,” he said. “So in my mind, let’s just get him up, lock down this win right here, and we’ll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.”

Alex Wilson was warming up with Rodriguez in the eighth inning and Ausmus said had it been a five-run lead or larger, he would’ve used Wilson.

“When we’ve got a lead like that, we’ve got to lock it down, and use the guys that we feel are best at locking it down right there,” he said. “If we had another run, it would’ve been different, a little more breathing room. Like I said, you don’t want to lose a lead like that.”

Tough break

Dustin Molleken waited 13 years to be called to the big leagues, then didn’t get into a game.

Molleken was sent back to Toledo to make room for Daniel Norris, who will start for the Tigers Thursday.

“I mean, we’ve got to win the game, so I have to go with the pitchers I think will help us win the game, but I wish there had been an opportunity where we would’ve brought him in,” Ausmus said. “I think he’ll get another shot, I’m pretty optimistic about that.

“You feel for him, because he did finally make the big leagues, and he didn’t actually get on the field. But my hope is, we’ll see him again, and he’ll get a chance.”

Twitter: @cmccosky