Michael Fulmer, recovering from right knee surgery, throws off a mound at Tigers spring training on Monday. Chris McCosky, The Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. — It looks worse than it is.
Michael Fulmer, coming off his second surgery on his right meniscus in five years, is wearing a big, black brace on his troublesome knee as he goes through his daily regimen here at TigerTown. For now, he’s wearing it even during his bullpen sessions.
As he told MLB.com last week, everything is just trial and error right now.
“Just to see if it'll help," he said . "It may be one of those things where I try it through spring training just to make sure everything's 100 percent and then see how I like it."
According to Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter, the brace serves two purposes. Obviously, it helps stabilize the knee — it’s on his drive leg — during his powerful delivery.
But it also prevents Fulmer from activating his heel in the delivery. When the heel is engaged, that’s when the knee gets stressed.
"Obviously it's not going to let me bend the way I used to, so I'm trying to make some adjustments there," Fulmer told MLB.com. "But it's all good adjustments, like I need to make with the brace or without the brace. I think it's kind of like a training tool to make sure my knee doesn't bend the way it has been, especially last year."
Fulmer has been in Lakeland since early December, first rehabbing from surgery and now well into his throwing program. He threw a bullpen session on Friday and on Monday he did some dry reps off the mound, with pitching coach Rick Anderson watching and advising.
It hasn’t been determined yet if Fulmer will wear the brace once the regular season begins.
In the meantime, Fulmer is waiting for his salary arbitration case to be heard. He will be the first player to take the Tigers to arbitration since 2001. He is asking for $3.4 million and the Tigers are offering $2.8 million.
The case is expected to be heard this week.
Around the horn
The Tigers have made a few changes to their big-league support staff. John Murrian, who has been the team’s bullpen catcher the last five years, has been hired as a hitting coach for the club’s Gulf Coast League teams.
… Replacing Murrian is former Wayne State University shortstop Jeremy Carrell. Carrell, a St. Clair product, will join Tim Remes, who is back for his second season as bullpen catcher.
…The Tigers also hired former farmhand Matt Crouse as their left-handed batting practice pitcher. Crouse, a 24th-round pick of the Tigers in 2011, advanced as high as Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers system.