Michael Fulmer's MRI reveals meniscus damage in right knee

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Michael Fulmer

Detroit — An MRI Monday showed that Tigers’ right-hander Michael Fulmer has meniscus damage in his right knee, manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game.

The Tigers have sent the MRI results to specialist Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Most likely, though, Fulmer will not pitch again this season.

“We’ll just wait and see,” Gardenhire said. “The best guess (on if he will make another start this year) is probably not. If there is damage, then that means something is wrong.”

Fulmer injured the knee coming off the mound to field a bunt Saturday in Cleveland. It was the first pitch of the game to Indians' Francisco Lindor. The bunt went foul, but Fulmer felt a twinge in his knee. He was unable to drive off the mound with any force and his velocity was down several miles per hour.

Lindor and Michael Brantley, the first two batters, hit home runs off him and he was removed from the game.

“I don’t know if my spike got caught in the dirt near the rubber or what, but when I went to push off to get the bunt, I tweaked the knee,” Fulmer said Sunday morning. “On the second pitch, I tried to shift my weight back and I felt like I hung in the air for a whole extra second and my knee kind of buckled on me.

“I just didn’t have any push-off power.”

It was Fulmer’s fifth start after spending more than a month on the disabled list with an oblique strain. His season ended early last year because of a nerve problem in his right elbow, which required transposition surgery.

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 “Just been a frustrating year,” he said. “I finally felt like, in my last two starts, I’d got my old mechanics back. I was reading swings off the bat, reading swing from hitters. I thought we were really getting somewhere and I felt really good about it.”

Gardenhire didn’t want to say too much until they heard back from Dr. Andrews.

“This is another step in trying to get him totally healthy,” he said. “Whatever they decide. We will just let the docs take care of him and hopefully we will see him in spring training all ready to go. This has been a tough year for him. It’s not gone like we wanted and he’s worked really hard.

“It just never developed into what he expected it to be.”

Shift bosses

The Tigers ranked last in terms of defensive runs saved from a defensive shift last season. Part of the reason for that was they ranked near the bottom in amount of shifts deployed, as well.

Things have changed.  General manager Al Avila has beefed up his analytics department and, gradually, grudgingly at times, the coaching staff and players have bought in to the metrics.

The Tigers are shifting more and more effectively. 

According to Sports Information Systems, they rank third in most defensive runs saved from the shift. The Diamondbacks are first (35 runs saved), the A’s are next (33), then the Tigers (30).

“I expected it to be that way,” Gardenhire said. “Those guys (analytics department) work real hard in that room next door and we’ve made a lot of nice adjustments. The players have bought into it. Joe V (Vavra, quality control coach) and Santy (infield coach Ramon Santiago) have worked really hard getting all that stuff down.

“And with all the changes in the lineup we’ve had and all the different people we’ve had on the field, I think that says a lot about where they are putting people.”

Around the horn

Gardenhire said his entire coaching staff will be retained for next season. That includes Rick Anderson returning as full-time pitching coach. He was the bullpen coach at the beginning of the season and replaced Chris Bosio, who was fired in June.

…JaCoby Jones (shoulder) threw on the field before the game and is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday. “He’s feeling better but if he dives or crashes into the wall again, then we are back to square one,” Gardenhire said. “We wanted to give him another day and see how he is tomorrow.”

…Niko Goodrum (quad bruise) did some light running on the field, the first time he’s run since his collision with Christin Stewart. It was, he said, just the first step in his recovery process.



Twins at Tigers

First pitch: 7:10 p.m., Tuesday

TV/radio: FSD, 97.1

Scouting report:

RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-10, 4.41), Twins: He’s just come through a murderer’s row of sorts. His last four starts have been against playoff-bound Oakland, Cleveland, Houston and the Yankees. Those four teams hit a combined .157 off him and he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Yankees. Good stretch for him.

LHP Daniel Norris (0-4, 6.14), Tigers: This will be his fourth start back after missing four months following groin surgery and he’s shown positive signs in each start. He is still in the process of building back his arm strength. He allowed four singles through four innings against the Astros in his last start before tiring in the fifth.