Tigers righty Michael Fulmer appears to be making nice progress in his attempt to rehabilitate following Tommy John surgery. As Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports, the team finds itself trying to hold him back.
Fulmer is working out at the team’s Florida complex, so it’s not implausible that he could face live hitters. But pitching coach Rick Anderson says there’s “no chance” of that at the moment.
Though it seems Fulmer is fully on track from a physical perspective, the team understandably wishes to proceed in a measured and cautious manner. Anderson suggests that the team would like to build Fulmer up slowly from live bullpen sessions into sim game action.
It’s tempting to think that moving ahead now could set Fulmer up to be ready at the start of the season. But the team is understandably concerned with unleashing Fulmer without full oversight and structure in place. The 27-year-old was once and could again be a key asset for a Detroit organization that is firmly in rebuilding mode at present.
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Fulmer is controllable through the 2022 season, so the team is wisely taking the long view. That’s probably best for him as well. Fulmer battled knee and other health issues even before blowing out his ulnar collateral ligament. If he’s to return to the quality pitching he provided in 2016-17, Fulmer will need to return to and remain at full health.