Detroit — The news on Tigers injured starting pitcher Michael Fulmer is encouraging.
“I really think I am ahead of schedule,” Fulmer said before Saturday's 2-1 win over the Indians. “I think I’ll be back sooner than expected.”
It has been eight days since Fulmer went on the disabled list with a Grade 1 left oblique strain. As of Saturday, he has passed all of the physical tests, in terms of linear strength in his lower and upper body. He still hasn’t thrown a baseball, nor tested the oblique for rotational stability.
But that’s coming.
“After the weekend, I think we see him starting to play catch,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s going to happen. If it were up to him, it’d be happening now. That’s why we have to calm him down and try to keep him under our control here.”
The Tigers are off Monday, but Fulmer expects to be able to throw off flat ground beginning Tuesday. It will likely take a couple of weeks to build his pitch count back up, assuming there are no physical setbacks. He will likely make at least two rehab starts before being activated.
Fulmer had never injured his oblique. In fact, when the Tigers' strength and conditioning staff test players before the start of spring training, Fulmer typically grades out in the top percentile in core strength.
“I will definitely do more (exercises) to build rotational flexibility and stability,” Fulmer said. “From now on I’m going to work on torque and core rotation and get more flexibility.”
Francisco Liriano was scratched from his start Saturday because of an allergic reaction. The Tigers, and Liriano, were still searching for the cause.
“He’s done all the blood work, so we’re waiting to see,” Gardenhire said. “There are more tests they can do.”
Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter said Liriano will see a specialist on Monday. For now, they’ve ruled out a food allergy.
Meanwhile, Liriano was feeling fine on Saturday and was expected to be available out of the bullpen if needed. He has rashes on his back and sides from the reaction.
Though it was never formally announced by the Tigers, they parted ways with Gerald Laird, who was to manage their Class-A Short Season Connecticut team this season.
John Westhoff, the Tigers vice president, assistant general manager and general counsel, confirmed that Laird was replaced by Gary Cathcart before the season, but would not discuss the reason, other than to say it was the team’s decision.