By Will Burchfield
Michael Fulmer hasn't looked like himself of late, largely because he hasn't felt like himself.
The pitcher has been dealing with tenderness in his shoulder dating back to his June 2 start versus the White Sox. He underwent an MRI last Friday and it revealed shoulder bursitis -- but no structural damage.
Neither Fulmer nor Brad Ausmus is concerned about the pitcher's long-term health. He received a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation and will start on Saturday versus the Rays on a few extra days of rest.
"I probably could have taken the ball five days from my last start, but they said they wanted to get it checked out. It had a little fluid in the bursa sac. Got it taken care of now as opposed to a few weeks from now where I end up missing extended time," Fulmer said on Tuesday.
He confirmed the swelling has subsided and the soreness is completely gone.
"I played catch and felt great the last couple days, bullpen tomorrow, it's all good from here," he said.
Fulmer was tagged for five runs on nine hits last Thursday versus the Angels, after which he told the Tigers coaching staff of the discomfort in his shoulder.
"Just a little pinching here and there. It wasn't bad but I just kind of mentioned something to 'em after I came out, just didn't feel my best. Honestly it was from probably two starts ago against the White Sox, just never fully recovered it felt like. A little fatigued, a little tired," Fulmer said.
He also surrendered five runs versus the White Sox, the first time in his career he's allowed that many runs in back to back starts. He said it's possible the pinching compromised his delivery.
"It could have. All I know is I played catch today and my slider today feels the best it has all year. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise," said Fulmer.
The 24-year-old said shoulder soreness has never been an issue for him in the past.
Brad Ausmus revealed on Tuesday that Fulmer didn't travel with the Tigers to Boston over the weekend in order to receive treatment. Asked if there's any long-term concern surrounding Fulmer, the manager said, "None, zero. Absolutely none. Just because you get an MRI doesn't mean there's a long-term concern."
With Fulmer being pushed back to Saturday, the rest of the Tigers' rotation will be moved up accordingly. Jordan Zimmermann will start on Wednesday, Justin Verlander on Thursday and Daniel Norris on Friday.
"Looking forward to making my start Saturday," Fulmer said. "I can't be passive about it, gotta stay aggressive with it and hopefully get a W."
Fulmer also quieted concerns about tipping pitches, an issue he raised after his start versus the Angels.
"I didn't find anything. I watched video, balls were up and kind of over the plate a little bit, but it was just one of those starts where you gotta tip your cap to those guys. They've been on a roll ever since," he said.
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