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Tigers shut down Michael Fulmer to work on mechanics

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Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reports that the Tigers have shut down starter Michael Fulmer indefinitely. Manager Ron Gardenhire said, “He took a step back to refine his lower-body mechanics. We have no timetable on when he’s going to get back on the mound.”

Fulmer, who turns 26 years old tomorrow, has logged eight innings this spring. He’s allowed seven runs (all earned) on 11 hits and four walks with six strikeouts. Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, had his worst season as a major leaguer last season, finishing 3-12 with a 4.69 ERA and a 110/46 K/BB ratio in 132 1/3 innings.

On the bright side, it doesn’t seem like Fulmer is suffering from an injury. The right-hander underwent his third right knee surgery last September, repairing a torn meniscus.

At the moment, Daniel Norris seems like the top candidate to replace Fulmer in the rotation, but the club is also having Spencer Turnbull stretch out as a starter.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.