Lakeland, Fla. – It was a busy morning for the Tigers Saturday.
Three players, including first-round draft pick Alex Faedo, were reassigned to minor-league camp. And, manager Ron Gardenhire gathered the media in his office to give a health update on ace Michael Fulmer.
Take a breath; it’s not anything tragic.
He had a precautionary MRI and the results came back clean, Gardenhire said.
“We’re going to back Fulmer up a couple of days but everything is fine,” Gardenhire said. “This was expected.”
Fulmer had some soreness in the back of his elbow in an area that the trainers said was unrelated to the ulnar nerve transposition surgery he had last September.
“Yeah, nowhere near the surgical stuff,” Gardenhire said. “It’s just that time of year. He’s been throwing bullpens and the whole package so we are going to give him time to recoup and let him get his strength back.
“We aren’t going to take any chances with this guy. We are going to be really careful this spring.”
Fulmer made his spring debut on Monday in Sarasota and threw 23 pitches. He said afterward that his arm and body felt fine. The soreness crept in during his bullpen session on Thursday.
“It’s just a muscular-type thing,” Gardenhire said. “He came in today and said he felt great. But we’re on top of this. The trainers, the coaches, everybody is on top of this. Our job is to get him to Day One and open the season with us.”
Gardenhire said Fulmer would get back into the rotation next week after the team gets back from an overnight trip to West Palm Beach (Nationals) and Port St. Lucie (Mets), Sunday-Monday.
Alex Wilson and Mike Fiers will start those two games.
First Cuts: The Tigers sent three right-handed pitchers to minor-league camp on Saturday: Faedo, Victor Alcantara and Paul Voelker.
Alcantara and Voelker will likely work with the Triple-A pitchers. It is unclear exactly where Faedo will start. He has yet to throw a pitch in professional baseball after his stellar career at Florida.
“We just need him to get over there and start pitching,” Gardenhire said. “Because of the rotation we’ve got here and all the guys in it, it’s just hard. We don’t need him sitting around and he doesn’t need to be sitting around here. He need to go get in pitching shape. And that’s what we told him.”
Faedo said he was thankful for the experience of being in big-league camp, but he was ready to get to work.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “I got to meet a lot of people and learn a lot of different things. It’s what it was meant to be – a good learning experience.”
Most project that Faedo will start the season at High-A Lakeland, but that is not official.
“He’s a very young professional pitcher and he’s going to get his first taste of this,” Gardenhire said. “We told him it’s going to be different. In college they tell you everything to do. Over here, you have to take care of yourself.”
The Tigers are especially wary of Faedo keeping up with his nutrition and conditioning plan.
“When you leave the park, you have to take care of yourself,” Gardenhire said. “In the off-season, you have to take care of yourself. Yes, we will give him a program, but it’s up to him. This is going to be a growing experience.
“Now he’s going to have to start doing things to take care of himself without somebody holding his hand like they do in college. He’s a big guy and we don’t want him to get bigger, right? He’s going to have to work extra because he is such a big guy.”