Detroit — Matthew Boyd, check. Spencer Turnbull, check. Jordan Zimmermann, check. Daniel Norris, check. Ivan Nova, check. Michael Fulmer?
Some 16 months after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Fulmer has been cleared for full baseball activity — meaning the Tigers starting rotation just got deeper.
“Last week the doctors cleared him,” general manager Al Avila said Wednesday. “He’s ready to go. He’s been pitching in simulated games (in Lakeland) and he up to three innings. He’s full-go. He will be part of our 60-man roster and we anticipate, barring any setbacks – and he hasn’t had any – he will be available to pitch in games at some point.”
Fulmer, the American League rookie of the year in 2016, hasn’t pitched in a game since September of 2018. He had knee surgery in October of 2018 and then the Tommy John surgery in March of 2019.
“Any time you can get a guy like Michael Fulmer back healthy, you know he’s going to be helpful,” Boyd said. “He’s got immense talent. Everyone saw what he can do right out of the chute in 2016. And he’s healthy now, so it’ll be exciting to see what roles we all fall into.
“But it’s awesome to have an arm like Michael back.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t writing him into the rotation just yet.
“He’s been out a long time,” Gardenhire said. “He’s throwing live batting practice and things like that, but that’s not the same as getting in a game, fielding bunts, covering first base and doing those other things. I know he’s working on it, but game situations are so much different than practice.
“There’s a lot of things he’s going to have to show us he can do, but he looks great. He’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen him. We’re going to put him out there and see what happens.”