By: Will Burchfield
Rumors often lead to nothing — “More than often,” Brad Ausmus interjected — but the Tigers seem to be more wary of the rumblings in the wake of the trade that sent J.D. Martinez to Arizona.
Well, Michael Fulmer, at least.
“We see (the rumors), everybody sees them. With J.D. being gone the last week it kind of put us into the perspective that basically anybody could be next. Obviously we want to play together as long as we can, we still believe in this clubhouse. Then again, Al (Avila) and (assistant GM) David Chad gotta do their jobs, too,” Fulmer said on Monday afternoon.
Fulmer is a longshot to be traded, with the Tigers demanding a king’s ransom to even entertain the idea — as they well should. The 24-year-old is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is under team control through 2023. This isn’t lost on the second-year pro.
“I feel like everybody needs young, controllable pitching,” Fulmer said recently, prior to the Martinez trade, “but I’m not worried in any way shape or form that I’m gonna get out of here. I wanna stay here. I want everybody to stay here.”
Ausmus, for his part, resisted the notion that the Tigers’ clubhouse is more on edge after the Martinez deal, even as the rumors continue to swirl.
“Trades are part of the game, and they’re a bigger part of the game this time of year. From a business perspective, J.D. was probably the most obvious candidate to get traded since he’s gonna walk as a free agent at the end of the year,” said Ausmus. “Not really happy to see him go, because of the player he was and the guy he was, but I don’t think it was a shock to anyone in the system.”
Aside from being a big bat in Detroit’s lineup, Martinez was a well-liked player in the clubhouse. His presence is already missed.
“It’s tough, you really don’t see many of your teammates go,” Fulmer said. “I’m just glad he’s in the National League now so we don’t have to face him very often.”
The Tigers enter a six-game homestand, which kicks off Monday night versus the Royals, at 45-52, 6.5 games behind the Indians in the A.L. Central and five games back in the wild card race. The likes of Justin Verlander, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila and Ian Kinsler are the subject of constant trade speculation, but there is still baseball to be played.
“When you have a uniform on and you take the field or you’re in the dugout, you put it on with the intent of winning,” Ausmus said. “You don’t care what the rumors are or when the trade deadline is. (The players) can’t do anything about it, I really can’t do anything about it.
“We just go out there and try to win. We’re 6.5 out, that’s far from miracle work. That’s pedestrian compared to some teams that have come from behind.”
The 2005 Houston Astros, of course, are one of Ausmus’ favorite reference points. They erased a huge deficit in the standings and made it all the way to the World Series as the N.L. wild card.
Fulmer, too, believes the Tigers still have a shot to salvage their season.
“Absolutely, especially coming up against the Royals now, and I know we got the Indians and the Twins a lot more. It was good to take two of three from Minnesota (over the weekend) and split with the Royals,” he said. “I feel like we’re right there. We just need a little bit of a run and we’re right back in it.”