Detroit Tigers reliever Michael Fulmer visits specialist, but what's the concern level?

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Detroit Tigers reliever Michael Fulmer is traveling to Lakeland, Florida, to rehab from a neck injury.

But first, he wanted to make a pit stop in Dallas to visit Dr. Keith Meister, the head team physician for the Texas Rangers. Meister performed Fulmer's Tommy John surgery in 2019, so the 28-year-old right-hander trusts him.

Fulmer and Meister met Friday, but manager AJ Hinch hasn't received any updates. Fulmer went to the 10-day injured list June 27 with a right cervical spine strain. While the Tigers don't believe there is any damage to his throwing arm, Fulmer wanted a second opinion.

"With Michael's medical history, it's about keeping his peace of mind in a good place," Hinch said Friday. "He's on his way to Lakeland, so he just stopped over in Dallas rather than taking the straight shot to Tampa. I think it's important for players to feel comfortable.

"We don't feel like anything's going to get revealed that we didn't already know, but Dr. Meister is a great doctor. If it brings comfort to Fulmer, all the better."

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Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Michael Fulmer, right, is congratulated by Jake Rogers after their win against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Michael Fulmer, right, is congratulated by Jake Rogers after their win against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

The Tigers believe Fulmer's injury is isolated to his neck — without impacting his shoulder. Fulmer simply wants to make sure. He most recently underwent right knee surgery in September 2018 and Tommy John surgery in March 2019, so there's a history of injuries.

This is Fulmer's second stint on the 10-day injured list this season. He went down with a right shoulder strain June 6, which kept him out until June 14. He has a 4.05 ERA, 11 walks and 42 strikeouts in 40 innings across 25 games (four starts).

Sunday's starter

The Tigers waited until Friday to determing Sunday's starter. They wanted to see how Wednesday's doubleheader played out before making any decisions, but Hinch is now certain of his starting pitcher for the series finale against the Chicago White Sox.

After Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal start the first two games at Comerica Park, the Tigers will turn to 23-year-old righty Matt Manning for the series finale. Veterans Wily Peralta and Jose Urena are slated to start Monday and Tuesday, respectively, on the road against the Texas Rangers.

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Manning has an 8.16 ERA, four walks and six strikeouts over 14⅓ innings in three starts to open his MLB career, though that was elevated by his third start: He allowed nine runs on nine hits — with zero walks and two strikeouts — Monday against Cleveland at Progressive Field.

Roster moves

Following Wednesday's doubleheader, the Tigers optioned lefty reliever Miguel Del Pozo to Triple-A Toledo. Before Friday's series opener with the White Sox, they brought back righty reliever Erasmo Ramirez from the 10-day injured list.

Ramirez, 31, had been on the injured list since May 8 with a right pectoralis strain and hasn't pitched in the big leagues this season. Ramirez is a nine-year MLB veteran; Hinch hopes he can provide the Tigers with crucial innings out of the bullpen leading up to the All-Star break.

"He's been a strike-thrower," Hinch said. "One of his rehab stints, he didn't throw strikes. But over his career, he's been a reliable strike thrower and very durable. He can mix and match, and he makes up pitches along the way. He has a little veteran savviness to him and finds his way to the big leagues.

"I mean, there's something to be said about a guy who finds his way back to the big leagues for as many years as he has. He hasn't quite stuck in recent years, and he's stuck with it. He stuck with our organization in Triple A, even when he pitched very well in spring and didn't get the call. I like his reliability."

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Tigers pitcher Erasmo Ramirez throws during a bullpen session at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Tigers pitcher Erasmo Ramirez throws during a bullpen session at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.

For the Mud Hens, Ramirez pitched eight innings across five relief appearances in 2021. He owns a 3.38 ERA — allowing three earned runs — with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

"He's just got a way about him that you feel like I can put him in any situation," Hinch said, "and he's going to give it his best."

To bring Ramirez to the big leagues, the Tigers had to dump Del Pozo. He pitched in relief of Manning in Monday's 13-5 loss but gave up two runs on three hits over ⅔ innings. He got the final out in the fourth inning but couldn't complete the fifth.

Del Pozo, 28, has dominated in Toledo, but Hinch "felt more comfortable with the pitches" Ramirez can provide moving forward. Del Pozo, 28, boasts a 1.02 ERA with six walks and 23 strikeouts over 17⅔ innings (15 appearances) in Triple A.

"There's only so much he can do," Hinch said. "He's just got to go down and pitch well. But look, this is a roster that's becoming more and more competitive to be on and more and more competitive to stay on. Keeping that message consistent and accurate is key."

Ramos returns to AL Central

The offense was a problem, the defense was a much bigger issue, and the injuries — consecutive stints on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar spine strain — were concerning. For these reasons, 33-year-old catcher Wilson Ramos was designated for assignment by the Tigers on June 15.

Five days later, Ramos was released.

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On Thursday, Ramos signed a minor-league contract with Cleveland. He has played for the Minnesota Twins (2010), Washington Nationals (2010-16), Tampa Bay Rays (2017-18), Philadelphia Phillies (2018), New York Mets (2019-20) and Tigers (2021) in his 12-year MLB career.

In 35 games this season, Ramos hit .200 with six home runs, 13 RBIs, six walks and 29 strikeouts. He went to the injured list May 7, returned May 17 and went back to the injured list May 24. He started his rehab assignment for Low-A Lakeland just three days before the Tigers cut him from the 40-man roster.

Schoop links up with Boras

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop hired the Scott Boras Corporation — headlined by Scott Boras, the most powerful agent in baseball — to represent him, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old is expected to generate interest from teams at the trade deadline, but it's unclear if the Tigers will get enough in return to warrant trading Schoop as a two-month rental.

Through 77 games, Schoop is hitting .277 with a team-high 15 home runs and 45 RBIs, as well as 20 walks and 66 strikeouts. He surged in June, logging a .340 batting average, eight doubles, 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 26 games.

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Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Michael Fulmer visits specialist; Erasmo Ramirez back