Fulmer '100 percent' after knee, TJ surgeries

July 2nd, 2020

DETROIT -- The last time pitched in a game, James McCann was his catcher and Pete Kozma was at shortstop. The last time he pitched at Comerica Park, Jim Adduci was at first base.

A lot can change in 22 months, a stretch that included right knee surgery and Tommy John surgery for the 27-year-old right-hander.

“The last year and a half for me, it's gone rather slowly,” Fulmer said Thursday on teammate ’ Instagram interview show, "The Drip."

Then again, for Fulmer, a lot changed in just the past four months. While the coronavirus pandemic put the Major League season on hold, Fulmer’s rehab from Tommy John surgery rolled on in Lakeland, Fla., all the way to simulated games.

“I'm leading the league in innings right now probably,” he joked.

In the process, Fulmer transitioned from a potential midseason addition to a realistic option to make Detroit’s Opening Day roster. Asked by Norris what his goal is for 2020, Fulmer kept it simple.

“Just to prove that I can stay healthy one year, especially [with] the last year and a half that I've had,” he said. “With a shortened season this year -- I would've had a shortened season anyway, and now the whole league is having a shortened season -- honestly I feel like I'm almost the most prepared, because I've been able to go to Lakeland and do my throwing program and my live BPs and all that stuff.

“I know having Tommy John, it's going to take a while for things to come back, time that this shortened season might not give, but I'm ready. I feel 100 percent and I'm ready to go out and give 100 percent and hopefully win this whole thing.”

Both Norris and Fulmer were talking from Metro Detroit, where the Tigers’ Summer Camp will begin Friday morning at Comerica Park. Whenever the club begins playing intrasquad games, it’ll be a milestone of sorts of Fulmer. It’ll also be about as close as he will get to a rehab assignment.

“I think our original plan was for me to get in games like the first week of June,” Fulmer said. “I would've been almost completely done with all my rehab starts, but obviously there's no Minor League season this year, so it's going to be a little tougher just playing intrasquads in [Summer Camp] and getting as many starts as I need to.

“The second thing is the adrenaline. You don't really get the adrenaline facing your own guys. I'm always a little nervous to go inside on our hitters. I'll stay away and spin some sliders out away. I don't go inside very often on them.”

It’ll also be cooler conditions in Detroit than Lakeland, or so Fulmer thought.

“I thought I'd get up to Detroit and it would be a little bit cooler,” he said. “But the day I got up here, it was like 90 degrees.”

Fulmer was Norris’ final guest on his final weekly show. Now that baseball is returning, the lefty is going back to his day job.