Fulmer has season-ending elbow surgery

Righty out 3-4 months, should be ready for spring

Fulmer has season-ending elbow surgery

CLEVELAND -- Michael Fulmer's followup to his American League Rookie of the Year campaign is officially over. The All-Star right-hander underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery in his right elbow to eliminate the numbness and tingling that had increasingly bothered him this season.

Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., after examining Fulmer's arm on Monday. Fulmer is expected to take three to four months to recover, but he should be ready in time for Spring Training.

Fulmer and the Tigers sought Andrews' opinion after the righty continued to have issues following his Aug. 29 start vs. Colorado. The 24-year-old was hoping to avoid surgery, but he wanted to know once and for all so that he could be ready for next season regardless.

"I kind of made it a point to myself to have the month of August, to make that a deadline for me, saying I either need to go check this out or keep pitching and not worry about it until next year," Fulmer said a week and a half ago. "But my biggest priority right now is Spring Training 2018, and I think that's what best for myself -- and most importantly -- the team."

The recommendation from Andrews was to have the surgery.

"Considering it kept rearing its head … the doctor recommended that he have this done to alleviate the issue, hopefully on a permanent basis," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Recent history with other pitchers suggest Fulmer should be ready. Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom had the same surgery last September, and he was ready to pitch when Grapefruit League games began. Fellow Mets starter Steven Matz had the same surgery last month.

The surgery doesn't involve any repair. It simply moves the ulnar nerve to another position in the elbow where it isn't as easily restricted.

Fulmer had been feeling symptoms following his starts since last year, but they became more of an issue during starts this summer, sometimes involving discomfort rather than just numbness. He said he felt a zap around his elbow when he hit Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez with a pitch last month, starting a chain of events that resulted in a benches-clearing incident and several suspensions.

Fulmer made one more start after that. He didn't feel the zap, but he still dealt with the numbness. He was shut down after that to have the elbow checked out again. Andrews has seen the initial exam results, Fulmer said, but wanted to see the elbow in person.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.