Michael Fulmer is Tigers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer

Chicago — This goes back to when he was in high school, before the Mets drafted him in the first round of 2011.

He took part in a program for special needs kids back in Oklahoma called Wings.

“They have what they call a Miracle League,” Fulmer explained. “They play a baseball game on this little turf field and I would always pitch to them. It started out where I would just try to hit their bat, but then they got older and started hitting home runs and stuff.

“When they found out who I was, after I was drafted, they all wanted me to pitch to them. And they are not afraid to talk a little smack either.”

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The last couple of seasons when the Tigers played Texas in Arlington, Fulmer helped bring two or three busloads of people from the Wings program to the game.

“I’m just trying to help others,” Fulmer said. “Nothing crazy. Just trying to put a smile on someone’s face. I started doing it when I was in high school and I’ve been loving it ever since.”

For that and so much more, Fulmer is the Tigers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a player from each team who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”

“I was very excited to hear that,” Fulmer said. “I think a small check comes with that and I will donate that back to Wings and to the Tigers’ Foundation, as well.”  

The Tigers will recognize Fulmer prior to the game against the Astros on Sept. 12.

Besides special needs children, Fulmer and his wife Kelsey are active with families affected by breast cancer and with the Armed Forces.  

Fulmer also does work for Miracle League of Michigan. Earlier this season, he joined the Make-A-Wish Foundation, in partnership with Major League Baseball, to help grant a wish of a young man with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, sending him to the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington D.C.

He and Kelsey, who lost her mother to breast cancer, helped raise more than $123,000 through their support of the American Cancer Society’s “Real Men Wear Pink” Metro Detroit campaign.

“I wouldn’t say I do it to get noticed for it,” Fulmer said. “I’m not trying to put myself out there. I just love seeing people with smiles on their faces, no matter who it is.”

No worries

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was asked Tuesday what his concern level was over closer Shane Greene.

“Zero,” he said.

Greene gave up two home runs in the ninth inning on Monday, blowing his fifth save and taking his sixth loss of the season. He had given up two runs in his outing before that. He’s allowed seven runs in his last six outings.

“You got the spotlight in that role and that’s the way it is,” Gardenhire said. “You come in and you have to make pitches in close ballgames. It happens. He’s been very good for us. He just threw two, two-seamers that didn’t sink.”

Greene’s fastball velocity was still good. The home run that Daniel Palka hit was a 95-mph two-seamer. The game-winner Matt Davidson hit was a 92-mph two-seamer.

“He didn’t seem to have much of a breaking ball,” Gardenhire said. “He spun a couple up there that didn’t do too much. It was unfortunate, for sure. But it’s part of being a closer. You’ve got to live with it and not too many guys can do it.”

Around the horn

Fulmer, who left his start after taking a line drive hit with an exit velocity of 115.6 mph off his shin Monday, had no further complications Tuesday. He is expected to make his next start.

…Tigers center fielder JaCoby Jones ranks second in the major leagues with 22 defensive runs saved. He trails Matt Chapman, who has 27.

…Victor Martinez’s ninth-inning home run Monday, that gave the Tigers a short-lived 2-1 lead, was the eighth go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later in his career, and his first since Aug. 9, 2016. He has 246 career home runs, which ties him with Ken Singleton for 16th among all-time switch-hitters in major league history.

...Shortstop Jose Iglesias (lower abdomen strain) is on track to come off the disabled list either Sunday or Monday, barring any setbacks.

Tigers at White Sox

First pitch: 8:10 p.m., Wednesday

TV/radio: FSD, 97.1

Scouting report:

■ RHP Michael Kopech (1-0, 0.82), White Sox: He’s thrown 11 big-league innings since his call-up from Triple-A, and he’s allowed one run with nine strikeouts. He’s walked just one, and that ended a streak of 32 straight innings without one. He has yet to flash the triple-digit velocity on his fastball, but, as the Tigers found out on Aug. 26, he’s legit.

■ RHP Jordan Zimmermann (6-6, 4.22), Tigers: He was on top of his game for five, no-hit innings at Yankee Stadium in his last start. His slider was lethal. He threw 36 of them between 85.5 and 88 mph and got seven whiffs and six called strikes. But, the home run ball got him in the sixth — he gave up three of them in the inning.