Fulmer facing new challenges after strong rookie season

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has no illusions about what 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer is facing this season.

''He's got a target on his back,'' Ausmus said. ''People know who he is. He's not sneaking up on anybody.''

Fulmer went 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 26 starts last season.

''He's going to have to adjust to the offense's adjustments to him,'' Ausmus said. ''He's not a big secret. Ultimately, you have to execute pitches.''

Fulmer's final big league spring training start Tuesday night against the New York Yankees was a prime example.

The right-hander walked his first three batters but limited the damage to a single run. After making 34 pitches in the first, Fulmer finished with four shutout innings in the Tigers' 6-3 win.

''It took me a while to get adjusted,'' Fulmer said. ''Baseball, you've got to make adjustments, and I feel like I'm saying this every start. Results-wise I was happy with it, but personally I'm not that enthused by it, so we've still some work to do, but my body feels great and I'm ready for the season.''

Fulmer missed a start after spraining his right ankle during an agility drill on March 4. He tweaked the same ankle covering first base during the first inning Tuesday.

''More of a scare than anything,'' he said. ''I was able to go four more innings with no problems.''

Fulmer will make one more appearance in Florida before his regular season debut next week. He is scheduled to go three innings or 45 pitches in a minor league game Sunday.

''I'm trying to fit the pieces together,'' he said.

Fulmer went 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA in his five spring training starts.

NOTES: Ausmus said Wednesday that Matthew Boyd will start the season in the rotation. The left-hander went 6-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 20 games, including 18 starts, last season.

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