DETROIT -- Tigers All-Star Michael Fulmer has been shut down and will see Dr. James Andrews for another examination on the ulnar neuritis that continues to bother him after a stint on the disabled list last month.Fulmer cited a flare-up of the ulnar neuritis for the pitch that hit Yankees
DETROIT -- Tigers All-Star Michael Fulmer has been shut down and will see Dr. James Andrews for another examination on the ulnar neuritis that continues to bother him after a stint on the disabled list last month.
Fulmer cited a flare-up of the ulnar neuritis for the pitch that hit Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez last week, starting a battle of inside pitches that led to three benches-clearing incidents and several related suspensions. He made his next turn last Tuesday at Colorado, but he gave up five runs in 6 1/3 innings and apparently felt numbness and tingling around the elbow again.
"I kind of made it a point to myself to have the month of August, to make that a deadline for me, saying I either need to go check this out or keep pitching and not worry about it until next year," Fulmer said. "But my biggest priority right now is Spring Training 2018, and I think that's what's best for myself and most importantly the team."
Fulmer said Friday he underwent an ultrasound exam, which showed his ulnar nerve slipping out of its usual track when he bends his elbow. However, no structural damage was evident. At this point, he said, he's weighing whether to have ulnar transposition surgery that would shift the nerve to a different spot in his elbow.
If Fulmer has the surgery now, he'd be expected to be ready in 3-4 months, in time for next Spring Training. Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom had similar surgery last September and was ready on that timetable.
"I don't know if I'm going to be pitching anymore this year or not," Fulmer said. "Hopefully Dr. Andrews says everything's fine and everything looks good and can't hurt it worse, and hopefully I come back. But right now my main priority is just be ready for 2018, whatever that may take."
Fulmer will miss at least the next two turns through the Tigers' rotation. Manager Brad Ausmus said it's premature to say if Fulmer will pitch again this season until they receive a report from Andrews and decide the next course of action.
"Nothing to panic about on my side, because it could have been a lot worse, and I know that," Fulmer said. "This is kind of best-case scenario for me, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to be ready for the 2018 Spring Training, and I know I'll be 100 percent."
Fulmer's move comes hours after the Tigers traded Justin Verlander to the Astros, leaving Detroit with rotation issues down the stretch of an already difficult season. Chad Bell will step in from the bullpen to start in Fulmer's spot for Sunday's series finale against the Indians. Artie Lewicki will be called up from Triple-A Toledo to start Monday's Labor Day matinee against the Royals.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.