Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer's smile, elbow make it clear how good his outing was
Detroit Tigers right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer needed only 25 pitches to smile.
He received Wednesday's start from manager Ron Gardenhire to lead the home Tigers against the visiting Tigers in an intrasquad scrimmage. The former American League Rookie of the Year tossed two innings and 15 strikes.
"Just watching Fulmer come off after the second inning and how excited he was, the big smile across his face," Gardenhire said. "Those are the moments you really enjoy."
Fulmer's team lost, 4-1, after 4½ innings; the game ended because of lightning. He struck out one hitter (Dawel Lugo) while giving up an unearned run because of a first-inning error by shortstop Niko Goodrum.
His first pitch got JaCoby Jones to fly out before allowing a double to second baseman Harold Castro, who later scored on Christin Stewart's fielder's choice groundout.
The 27-year-old's appearance was his first live game since Sept. 15, 2018, when he faced five hitters and allowed two runs without recording an out in a 15-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
"You know, he's been working really, really hard to take this step forward," Gardenhire. "He got out there and threw the ball good. Like I said, that smile coming off the mound, that's what it's all about."
In Fulmer's 2016 rookie season, he went 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 26 starts (159 innings) with 132 strikeouts against 42 walks.
His 2017 AL All-Star season featured a 3.83 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 164⅔ innings in 25 starts.
The Tigers begin the 60-game season July 24 on the road against the Cincinnati Reds.
Rule 5 selection impresses
If it hadn't been for center fielder Derek Hill's diving catch, righty Rony Garcia would've secured the fictitious award for most noteworthy player of the intrasquad game.
The No. 1 pick in this year's Rule 5 draft, the 22-year-old Garcia shined with 24 pitches (14 strikes). He struck out three, allowing just one hit in two innings.
"He threw the living fire out of the ball," Gardenhire said. "We had this view from our dugout and, man, the ball was jumping, hitters said it was jumping. That's what you have to do.
"You're going to make an impression, and you've got to go out there on the mound and have to be ready when you get your opportunities. He really threw it good today."
Garcia, at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, played for two teams in the New York Yankees organization last season — High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton — and put together a combined 4-13 record with a 4.01 ERA, 129 strikeouts and 45 walks in 25 games (130⅓ innings).
He has started 71 of 75 career games but has never made it to the big leagues, let alone Triple-A.