LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michael Fulmer's first pitch in 12 days hit 95 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun. His sixth pitch was a nasty 87 mph slider that sent Mets leadoff man Patrick Biondi chasing off the plate for a strikeout. Amed Rosario did the same with Fulmer's
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michael Fulmer's first pitch in 12 days hit 95 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun. His sixth pitch was a nasty 87 mph slider that sent Mets leadoff man Patrick Biondi chasing off the plate for a strikeout. Amed Rosario did the same with Fulmer's next three pitches, all sliders.
Once Michael Conforto, the gifted young outfielder the Tigers almost acquired from the Mets in the offseason, went down swinging at a changeup to end the inning, Fulmer looked like he hadn't missed a turn. His mild ankle injury cost him a start and a chance to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, but it didn't cost him anything from his stuff.
"I'm glad to be back out there," Fulmer said after Sunday's 4-3 Tigers win over the Mets. "It felt like a long 12 days off."
Six of Fulmer's 15 first-inning pitches were swings and misses, all of them sliders or changeups. He didn't keep up that rate, and he seemed to show the impact of the break as he went on, ending at 44 pitches with one out in the third inning and a couple of runs in. Even so, his fastball registered at 94-95 mph against his final batters.
"I thought he threw well," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He just got tired at the end."
Said Fulmer: "I felt good. I don't think it was fatigue setting in, maybe a little bit in the legs, just leaving balls up and getting behind guys. They had a couple hard-hit balls in the third and ultimately scored a couple runs. But overall, I think it's just minor changes, and that's part of Spring Training. I think the more outings I have, the more buildup I get, hopefully they'll be more [like] the first couple innings."
He'll have plenty of opportunity. With the World Baseball Classic now out of consideration -- he had been part of the Designated Pitcher Pool -- Fulmer has just under three weeks of working on turn in the rotation, giving him at least three starts and potentially four.
"I feel good," Fulmer said. "Body's responding well. Arm feels great. All it is, just part of the process to each start, hopefully build another inning each start."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.