Detroit — He thought he might’ve been tipping his pitches. He thought maybe he just caught a couple of hot offenses in his last two starts — the White Sox and Angels.
Either way, something wasn’t normal, that’s for sure. For the first time in his young career, Michael Fulmer had been tagged for five runs in two consecutive starts.
Turns out, the problem was shoulder inflammation. Fulmer complained of “a little pinching” in his right shoulder after he was lifted from his start last Thursday. He did not accompany the team to Boston. Instead, he had an MRI.
“The MRI showed shoulder bursitis,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “There is no structural damage.”
Fulmer had a cortisone shot on Friday to address the inflammation and he threw pain-free Monday and before the game Tuesday. He will throw a full bullpen session on Wednesday.
“There was just a little fluid in the bursa sac,” Fulmer said. “We got it taken care of now as opposed to a few weeks from now where I might’ve missed more time. With the off-day Monday, I don’t have to miss a start.
“I feel healthy now so it should be all good from here.”
Fulmer will start on Saturday. Jordan Zimmermann will pitch in the series finale against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, which would have been Fulmer’s normal turn.
Fulmer said he felt shoulder fatigue during his start against the White Sox on June 2.
“It was just a little pinching here and there,” he said. “It wasn’t bad. It just didn’t feel the best, honestly, going back two starts ago against the White Sox. It was like it never fully recovered, always fatigued and it felt a little tired.
“I told them something felt a little pinched in my shoulder and they said let’s get an MRI. It’s nothing major. It came back, just a little bursitis. I got a cortisone shot and I’ve been out there playing catch yesterday and today.”
The inflammation in the shoulder easily could have impacted the sharpness on his pitches, particularly the slider, which didn’t have the same bite in his last two starts.
“All I know is, I played catch today throwing sliders and it was the best I felt all year,” he said. “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”
Asked what his concern level was regarding Fulmer, Ausmus said, “None. Zero. We pretty much MRI everything these days. You fall off your bike and scrape your knee, we’re going to MRI it. He just had inflammation in his bursa sac, he’ll be fine.”
After Zimmermann starts Wednesday, Justin Verlander will start Thursday against the Rays. Daniel Norris will go Friday and then Fulmer Saturday.