The Detroit Tigers believe they’ve avoided two significant injuries to the pitching staff.
Both Michael Fulmer and Spencer Turnbull are sidelined on the 10-day injured list: Fulmer has a right shoulder strain; Turnbull has a right forearm strain. While the Tigers don’t know the exact timetable for their returns, manager AJ Hinch doesn’t think his right-handers will miss significant time.
Fulmer went to the 10-day injured list Sunday, retroactive to Thursday. The earliest he could return is Sunday for the three-game series finale against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park to conclude a six-game homestand.
“We won’t know until he starts throwing again,” Hinch said Tuesday. “But we do feel good. We’re optimistic that it’s going to be a short stint, but that could lead into it being more than 10 days — 11 days, 12 days, 15 days, I’m not sure.”
Fulmer hasn’t pitched since May 30.
The initial plan was to give Fulmer a break May 31 and June 1 against the Milwaukee Brewers because of fatigue, and then bring him back into the mix for a four-game series with the White Sox last week at Guaranteed Rate Field.
But Fulmer never returned from what was supposed to be a few days off, so the Tigers put him on the injured list. He first experienced discomfort in his throwing arm before Saturday’s game against the White Sox.
“Given the feedback we got on the off day (Monday) when he came in and saw Doug (Teter, athletic trainer) and the training group going into the weekend, we’ll know a little more once we fire him back up. But the sense of relief for him and for us is that it’s nothing structurally big. It’s some inflammation. Hopefully, that can be knocked out quickly.”
This season, Fulmer has appeared in 20 games — 16 out of the bullpen. He owns a 3.34 ERA, 10 walks and 35 strikeouts in 35 innings. As a reliever, Fulmer carries a 2.42 ERA, five walks and 28 strikeouts, with four saves.
Turnbull landed on the 10-day injured list Saturday, so the earliest he can return June 15 against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The 28-year-old was removed from Friday’s start against the White Sox with a forearm injury after the fourth inning.
The Tigers aren’t as concerned with Turnbull’s injury as they were when he left the game, which is a positive sign.
“He’s not throwing for a few days,” Hinch said. “Until we get him back in with the plyo balls, the throwing and a more rigorous kind of rehab program, we’re not going to have a timeline for him. The news has been optimistic for him. But he’s got a few days before he does anything.”
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With Turnbull’s start open for Thursday against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park, Hinch is implementing a bullpen-only game. He does not expect to bring up a pitcher from Triple-A Toledo to start the three-game series finale.
Turnbull has a 2.88 ERA, 12 walks and 44 strikeouts in 50 innings this season, making nine starts. He pitched a no-hitter May 18 against the Mariners in Seattle.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.