DETROIT (AP) The reigning Rookie of the Year in the American League has another honor to look forward to: Michael Fulmer is set to start the home opener for the Detroit Tigers.
''The home opener in Detroit is a big deal, so you want to feel good about your chances of winning,'' manager Brad Ausmus said. ''He's the guy who won the Rookie of the Year award, so he's earned it.''
Fulmer takes the mound Friday when the Tigers host the Boston Red Sox in Detroit's first home game of the season. The right-hander went 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA last year, helping Detroit contend for a postseason spot until its final game.
Fulmer didn't make his major league debut until April 29 last year, so pitching in Detroit at the very start of the season will be new to him. An Oklahoma City native, Fulmer says he has no experience pitching in cold weather.
The Tigers (1-1) began their season in Chicago against the White Sox with what was supposed to be a three-game series. Two games were postponed because of the weather, and only one was made up this week. Over in the Detroit area, there was actually some snow falling Thursday.
''It's going to be cold,'' Fulmer said. ''Obviously throwing up here (in Chicago) in the bullpen was a little challenging. But their guy has to do it, too, so you can't make any excuses about it. Just find a way to get it done.''
Knuckleballer Steven Wright is slated to start for the Red Sox.
The Tigers are giving ''Mr. I'' buttons to all fans in attendance Friday, in honor of owner Mike Ilitch, who died shortly before the start of spring training. Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez will throw the ceremonial first pitch.
Detroit entered the season with major questions in the outfield and at the back of the rotation, and the results so far have been mixed. Outfielders JaCoby Jones and Tyler Collins homered during the series in Chicago, a good sign for a team that's without injured right fielder J.D. Martinez.
On Thursday, however, Detroit lost 11-2 to the White Sox, with fifth starter Matthew Boyd failing to make it out of the third inning. Anibal Sanchez, who was another candidate for the rotation, allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings of relief.
If the Tigers are going to reach the postseason this year, Fulmer will probably have to play a major role. His first assignment of the season is an indication of how highly his team thinks of him.
''It's a huge honor,'' Fulmer said. ''Obviously, we've got (Justin Verlander), who started opening day, and I feel like the home opener is the second-best honor, in my books. I'm happy to have the trust in Brad and the whole organization to have that big game. ... Hopefully I don't let them down.''
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