Bradenton, Fla. — Manager Brad Ausmus pulled Michael Fulmer into his office Saturday morning to give him the news — the reigning American League Rookie of the Year will get the start in the Tigers’ home opener April 7 against the Red Sox.
“He was pretty stoic, like normal,” Ausmus said of Fulmer’s reaction. “We talked about PVC piping.”
The latter was a reference to Fulmer’s off-season plumbing work. Truth is, starting the opener at Comerica Park is an honor and it’s not haphazardly bestowed.
“It’s not necessarily a reward,” Ausmus said. “We pushed him toward the back of the rotation because we started him slower. But he had an excellent year last year and Opening Day at Comerica Park, going back to Tiger Stadium – it’s like the Super Bowl. I’ve always said Opening Day should be a state holiday.”
Justin Verlander will start the season opener in Chicago against the White Sox. And though it isn’t official, Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris are expected start the other two games against the White Sox.
“Opening Day is always more intense and in Detroit it’s even more intense than most cities,” Ausmus said. “But I don’t think it will affect Fulmer, just because of his make-up.”
Fulmer threw a career-high 174 innings last season, including his starts at Toledo. That’s why he was eased in this spring. He’s made five starts, including one against minor-league hitters on the back fields. He’s thrown just 15 innings this spring.
Fulmer was not on the trip to Bradenton, thus not available for comment.