Released by the Phillies, John Bowker heads to Japan

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Philadelphia released John Bowker so that he could sign a deal to play in Japan, putting an end to (or at least putting on hold) a big-league career that just never really got going.

Bowker was the Giants’ third-round pick in 2004 and always put up strong numbers in the minors, hitting .307 with an .886 OPS in 139 games at Double-A and .314 with a .922 OPS in 311 games at Triple-A.

His only real extended chance in the majors came in 2008 and he fared decently for a 24-year-old rookie, hitting .255 with a .708 OPS in 111 games, but since then Bowker has totaled just 272 plate appearances in the majors while hitting .202. He probably deserved more of an opportunity at some point, but Bowker will likely make more money in Japan than he would have as a role player in America anyway.

Michael Fulmer underwent surgery on his right knee

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros
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MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that Tigers starter Michael Fulmer underwent successful surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. The Tigers expect Fulmer to be ready for spring training next year.

Fulmer, 25, threw just five pitches in his start against the Indians on Friday before being removed with what at the time was called right knee inflammation. The right-hander ends 2018 with a 3-12 record, a 4.69 ERA, and a 110/46 K/BB ratio in 132 1/3 innings.

Fulmer will enter his first of four years of arbitration eligibility after the season. The Tigers likely would have considered trading him during the offseason but his poor season and knee woes will keep him in Detroit for the time being.