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Fulmer undergoes surgery on right knee

Tigers right-hander expected to be back by Spring Training
MLB.com

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer underwent successful surgery Thursday morning on a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Tigers announced. The right-hander is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Fulmer had a partial meniscectomy, rather than a full reattachment or reconstruction. It's an arthroscopic surgery in which the damaged part of the meniscus is cleaned up. He also had a chondroplasty, in which the bones around the meniscus are smoothed to promote healing.

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DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer underwent successful surgery Thursday morning on a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Tigers announced. The right-hander is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Fulmer had a partial meniscectomy, rather than a full reattachment or reconstruction. It's an arthroscopic surgery in which the damaged part of the meniscus is cleaned up. He also had a chondroplasty, in which the bones around the meniscus are smoothed to promote healing.

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"This was a really good outcome for Michael Fulmer, and us," Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter said.

Fulmer left his start on Sept. 15 against the Indians without recording an out, and after five pitches, he had allowed two home runs. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Fulmer injured the knee trying to field a bunt.

Dr. James Andrews, who operated on Fulmer's meniscus five years ago, performed this surgery in Pensacola, Fla.

Fulmer will begin rehab back home in Oklahoma, then head to Lakeland, Fla., this offseason, once he's cleared to ramp up activity.

"He's great," Gardenhire said. "He texted me today and was really excited. He says everything is good."

Fulmer had surgery on the same knee in 2013 and missed three months before returning to the mound. Since then, Fulmer won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in '16 and was named an All-Star in '17.

Even when healthy this season, Fulmer experienced setbacks from his early success. His ERA (4.69), WHIP (1.32) and hits allowed per nine innings (8.7) were all career highs.

This will be the second straight offseason for Fulmer to be marred by injury. He had season-ending elbow surgery in September last year and rehabbed through the winter to be ready for Spring Training.

Gardenhire mentioned the possibility of Fulmer having to tweak his delivery in order to reduce the wear and tear on his knee. The right-handed Fulmer uses his right leg to push off the mound.

"We might have to make a mechanical change," Gardenhire said. "We'll see. It's whatever they think. The one thing you don't want to do is make a mechanical change, and it ends up hurting his arm. But dragging that back foot might have to change a little bit."

With Fulmer out, Gardenhire said the Tigers will likely stick with a five-man rotation through the end of the season.

Worth noting
JaCoby Jones has the potential to be a utility man for the Tigers. He's an emergency backup infielder for the rest of the season, but Gardenhire is committed to keeping Jones in the outfield for the long term.

"He's our center fielder," Gardenhire said. "He's a pretty special talent."

The Tigers would like to see Jones develop at the plate and cut back on his strikeouts. Jones is one of eight players in MLB this season to have at least 131 strikeouts in fewer than 400 at-bats.

Blaine Hardy has said he'll train this offseason as though he'll be in the rotation next year, but Gardenhire is leaving the versatile left-hander's future open.

"We'll have to figure that out as we go," Gardenhire said. "I liked him in the rotation, but then again, he got tendinitis in his elbow and had to come out."

Gardenhire also said the free-agent market could determine Hardy's role in 2019. With the Tigers' rotation going through numerous injuries this season, Hardy posted a 4.26 ERA in 13 starts.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer