Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer will be out for at least two weeks, and possibly for the rest of the season due to a recurrence of ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. Fulmer will see orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews next week in Pensacola, Fl. to evaluate the injury.
Fulmer was placed on the disabled list on July 31 with the same condition. Since the club can call up any number of players who are on the 40-man roster in September, a DL move is not necessary this time around, but Fulmer will be unavailable to pitch.
Fulmer had an ultrasound on Saturday morning which showed the ulnar nerve was “slipping” in his right elbow. If surgery is required, the Tigers want to get it taken care of as soon as possible. Fulmer told the Detroit News that the time for recovery following a potential surgery is three to four months. He said that the elbow was structurally sound and there is no ligament damage.
“This is nothing to panic about,” said Fulmer, who felt his elbow “zap” during Tuesday’s start at Colorado. “This is a best-case scenario.”
“I’ve been told it can’t get any worse,” said Fulmer, whose MRI exam was analyzed by Andrews, by an orthopedist in New York, and by Tigers physician Stephen Lemos.
Fulmer and the Tigers are unsure whether surgery will be required. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year may return to pitch this season, or he could just be shut down until 2018. He told the Detroit Free Press:
"My biggest priority is spring training 2018. I think that's what's best for myself, and most importantly, the team. I don't know if I'm going to be pitching anymore this year. Hopefully, Dr. Andrews says that everything is fine and everything looks good and ... hopefully I come back. But right now, my main priority is to be ready for 2018, whatever that may take."
The Tigers have called up left hander Chad Bell to make Fulmer’s start on Sunday against the Cleveland Indians. Bell made seven starts this year at Triple-A Toledo, where he went 2-4 with a 3.41 ERA. He has worked out of the Tigers bullpen this season, posting a 5.48 ERA in 19 relief appearances.
Detroit has also recalled starting pitcher Myles Jaye from Toledo, and activated starting pitchers Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez from the disabled list. They will also call up righthander Artie Lewicki to start against the Kansas City Royals on Monday. It is unclear which pitchers will remain in the starting rotation for the remainder of the season.