Detroit — Only at the All-Star Game do these kinds of things happen.
There were two of the best young pitchers in the American League on Tuesday — Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer and the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer — playing catch in the outfield and comparing notes.
“I asked him to teach me his slider,” Fulmer said before the game Friday. “He gave me some out-there advice, not really trying to help me too much, but still trying to give me something. I played catch with him.
“I threw a bullpen, too, before the game and he actually watched it. He said he was impressed and wanted to know how I threw my change-up. He said he watches my starts just like I watch most of his when we face common opponents. We have similar stuff.
“Just he averages about two more strikeouts an inning than I do.”
Interesting that Fulmer would ask about Archer’s slider since his own is considered a plus-pitch for him.
“Yes, yes, his is a lot better,” Fulmer said. “I like mine, just not this year — it’s been kind of hit or miss. You see the amount of times he throws his slider and still gets people to swing like they do. I honestly believe he has one of the best sliders in the game.”
Fulmer, who started and beat the Indians on the Sunday before the break, wasn’t able to pitch in the American League’s 2-1 win. Which didn’t dampen his experience in the least.
“I’m kind of glad I didn’t get to pitch,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about it. Even a guy like (Astros Lance) McCullers was saying the same thing. He was the only one there on regular rest, so he was the long guy in case it went extra innings.
“He was worried about pitching, trying to get mentally right and all of that. Which is tough to do in that atmosphere where you are just trying to take everything in.”
For the first day, he mostly attached himself to the hip of All-Star veteran Justin Upton. He said he didn’t feel comfortable approaching some of the stars on his own.
“It felt like my rookie year all over again,” he said. “I was shocked when I got there, being able to share a locker room with all those great pitchers and position players. Seeing Aaron Judge tower over everybody.”
Fulmer and Judge played against each other in the lower minor-league levels and he was hoping to catch up with him.
“You couldn’t really sit down and talk to him because everybody else was trying to talk to him,” Fulmer said. “I just shook his hand.”
The highlight for Fulmer, though, was getting his batting practice jersey and about a half-dozen baseball signed by his All-Star teammates.
“I am going to auction one or two of them off to try to raise some money for my charity back home,” Fulmer said of WINGS, a Norman, Okla.-based foundation that assists adults with developmental disabilities. “The others I am going to keep for myself. I want to try and remember this for as long as I can.”
While he was in Miami, his name got bandied around in some trade rumors. The Cubs reportedly asked the Tigers about his availability and were rebuffed.
“I heard it; it’s just rumors,” he said. “I am just going to pitch for the Detroit Tigers every fifth day. They are just rumors. I don’t think I am going anywhere, so I am not really worried about it.
“We are all trying to keep this team together right now. So we have to start winning games.”