Tigers’ right-hander Michael Fulmer might not make it to the World Baseball Classic this year. The 23-year-old sprained his right ankle during agility drills on Saturday and is expected to miss his next spring training start on Monday. According to manager Brad Ausmus, the sprain will likely prevent Fulmer from reaching the necessary pitch counts to play for Team USA later this month.
MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that the sprain is classified as a Grade 1 injury, which shouldn’t affect the righty’s chances of making the roster by Opening Day. As far as the WBC is concerned, Fulmer’s involvement depends on Team USA advancing beyond the first round, as he’s been named to a Designated Pitcher Pool that the team can only draw from in subsequent rounds of the tournament.
Beck adds that pitchers in the second round can toss up to 80 pitches, with an additional 65 pitches in the third round. Fulmer, meanwhile, has thrown a total of 19 pitches in three innings during spring training so far. The Tigers are understandably inclined to take a conservative approach with the right-hander, who turned out a 3.06 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 159 innings with the club during his award-winning rookie campaign in 2016.