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Fulmer works out kinks in Tigers' exhibition loss

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Michael Fulmer threw 15 pitches in his Grapefruit League debut Friday, and it was not his typical three-pitch mix — 14 fastballs, one slider.

And he hated the slider, even though he got an inning-ending ground ball from Trey Mancini.

“I don't know how many pitches I threw, but they were all fastballs except the last one to Mancini,” Fulmer said. “I threw him a slider. It was a cement mixer (meaning it just spun), but that's what spring training is for. You have to work on that stuff.”

The Tigers dropped the exhibition opener to the Orioles, 2-0.

BOX SCORE: Orioles 2, Tigers 0

Fulmer gave up a one-out single to Johnny Giavotella, but stranded him at first. Of the 15 pitches, eight were strikes.

“I was rusty for sure,” he said. “The biggest thing was going out and feeling healthy. The ball was coming out good, I felt like. Everything was working properly. Just was a little out of sync. It just has to do with release point and trying to get the ball down more.”

There were no radar gun readings in the stadium, and Fulmer didn’t ask anybody about how hard he was throwing. It wasn’t the point.

“I'm not even worried about that right now,” he said. As long as I like how it feels coming out of my hand, and everything felt good. Just out of sync with my timing and leg kick. It's all easily fixable.”

The Tigers are cautiously easing Fulmer in this spring, limiting him to an inning Friday and possibly not more than two in his next start. That’s fine, Fulmer said.

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“I was glad to work just the one,” he said. “Just get out there and see how I feel, and how I respond tomorrow. That's the big thing. Just see how my body responds tomorrow, then do my bullpen in two days and get ready for the next one.”

Mike Pelfrey, fighting for a rotation spot, allowed one run in two innings. A leadoff walk led to a 20-pitch second inning and the one run — driven home by a sacrifice fly by Ryan Flaherty.

“I thought it was OK. It was the first time being out there against another team after one live BP,” Pelfrey said. “Obviously walking the first guy is not a good way to start. Besides that, it was OK. The two mistakes I missed — I hung a slider and the guy hit to right for a hit, and a fastball leaked back over. I gave up hits on both of those.

“Besides that, I thought it was a good first time out.”

Pelfrey went into the outing wanting to work on his slider. He said out of 28 pitches, he threw eight of them.

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“It's a fine line because I wanted to work on my slider today, which is something I worked on this offseason — I worked on it a lot,” he said. “I threw it probably 7 or 8 times, which is not bad out of 28 pitches or so.”

How did it feel?

“That's what I was just talking to Alex (Avila) about: 50-50. He said 50 percent of them were really good and 50 percent were kind of getting around.”

The Orioles scored an unearned run off right-hander Warwick Saupold in the fifth. Edward Mujica, Logan Kensing and Dustin Molleken each pitched scoreless innings. Bruce Rondon pitched a scoreless ninth, walking one and striking out one.

Offensively, the Tigers managed just four singles — by Alex Avila, Jose Iglesias, Dominic Ficociello and Steven Moya.

Twitter @cmccosky