'We have to get him healthy': Michael Fulmer expected to have knee surgery Thursday
Detroit — What the Tigers and starting pitcher Michael Fulmer most want Thursday is no surprises.
A torn meniscus in Fulmer's right knee, which has been the preliminary medical report, is a relatively routine procedure which typically puts an athlete on the shelf for only a few weeks.
Only if doctors discover there is more extensive damage, Tigers manager Ron Gardnerhire said Tuesday, would Fulmer's recovery be prolonged.
Fulmer was getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews but otherwise expects arthroscopic repairs Thursday after he damaged his knee fielding a bunt in Saturday's game at Cleveland.
"The plan is for him to be pitching next spring for us," Gardenhire said Tuesday. "If we have to adjust, we have to adjust.
"But they want to get it right and make sure this thing is fixed."
Fulmer has had two past right-knee surgeries, dating to his early days with the Mets. His past year with the Tigers has been star-crossed.
He needed surgery last September to transpose a nerve in his right (throwing arm). He returned for spring camp and was having only a so-so year when he had another disabled-list layoff due to a torn oblique muscle.
Fulmer, who two years ago was considered one of baseball's best young pitchers, is 3-12 this year with a 4.69 ERA.
"He had some good performances," Gardenhire said, "but it seems like a lot of things have happened.
"It's frustrating. His arm is great, but we've got to get him healthy."
Jeimer Candelario had to leave late in Tuesday night's game, which saw the Twins cuff the Tigers, 5-3.
His diagnosis wasn't as bad as it sounded: lumbar spine spasm.
"Day to day," Gardenhire said, explaining that Candelario's back tightened late.
The Tigers were to evaluate their starting third baseman ahead of Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. series finale against the Twins at Comerica Park.
"Might be a couple of days," said Gardenhire, who was fretting because "we're already short on infielders."
There are teams wondering where they went wrong. The Tigers nearly became one of them in May when Drew VerHagen found himself on the waiver wire after some early tumbles out of the Tigers bullpen.
But, fortunately for his longtime employer in Detroit, VerHagen cleared and was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. He returned after a retooling there and has, during the season's second half, been a late-inning blessing for Gardenhire.
VerHagen has a 1-0 record and 0.00 ERA in his last six games. In his last 23 stints, he has a 2.08 ERA, with 31 strikeouts in 34-2/3 innings. Opponent batters during that stretch are batting sub-.190.
"I thought someone would take him (on waivers)," Gardenhire said Tuesday as the Tigers got ready to play the Twins at Comerica Park.
"But he's a guy I feel like I could close a game with. I feel like I could put him anywhere — that's how confident I feel about him and his stuff."
Twins at Tigers
First pitch: 1:10 Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit
Notable: Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull will make his MLB debut. The Tigers drafted him in the second round in 2014 out of the University of Alabama and he has quality pitches, beginning with a mid-90s fastball.