GOODYEAR, Arizona –– Carson Fulmer knows what it’s like to start fresh.
Fulmer has been waived five times in the last year. Fulmer has been a part of five different organizations and made multiple switches from starting pitcher to reliever. He has been a top-40 prospect, and he has been on the outside looking in on the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff.
Even though he’s on another new team after being claimed by the Cincinnati Reds last week, Fulmer feels like he’s in a more familiar setting than before. Since pitching coach Derek Johnson recruited him and briefly coached him at Vanderbilt, Fulmer has known the coach he’ll be playing for since he was in high school.
“Usually in the past, you come to a new team and coaches are trying to feel you out,” Fulmer said. “Here, I feel like we can kind of just get into what we need to get accomplished. (Johnson) knows me really well. He’s been around me quite a bit. I think that little bit of time where people have to get familiar with you is kind of wiped out and we can get to work on what we need to.”
Fulmer, a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher, reported to camp in Goodyear on Wednesday to compete for a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster. He entered an organization in need of pitching help at the moment.
In the first three weeks of spring training, the Reds pitching depth has already been tested. With three of the eight potential starting pitchers in camp dealing with minor injuries, the Reds made a late addition to bolster the depth of the pitching staff.
If Fulmer makes the roster, he would be one of the more experienced pitchers in the bullpen.
“I have been throwing the ball really well, which is a positive thing for me,” Fulmer said Wednesday after reporting to camp. “This is my first day here and I'm comfortable with the people I've already seen. Whether it's players I've played with or against, former teammates, the coaching staff. I think this is definitely going to be a great fit.”
Fulmer has been a starter and a reliever during his career. While he has only thrown 105 big league innings, Fulmer made 15 starts with the Chicago White Sox between 2015 and 2019.
Johnson said the Reds had pursued Fulmer before, and Fulmer’s fastball and cutter combination could help him find a spot on the team.
“It felt like a win-win for us,” Johnson said. “We’ve had some injuries in camp, and so getting a guy that we’ve talked about for a couple of years, getting a guy that perhaps could do something special for us, it just sort of felt right, giving him an opportunity to be here.”
Tejay Antone’s plan is TBD
With two weeks left in spring training, the Reds will have to make a decision soon about whether to build Tejay Antone into a pitcher who’s ready to throw five-plus innings or go the other direction and turn him into a reliever.
Johnson said the Reds haven’t decided yet on Antone, but he added that it takes a good bullpen for a team to be successful.
“I do think our games – like they have in the last couple of years – they have been won or lost, a lot of times, in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth inning,” Johnson said. “Our bullpen has to be solid if we’re going to have a chance.”
Where does Aristides Aquino fit?
When outfielder Shogo Akiyama went onto the injured list, Aristides Aquino became the Reds best outfield option off the bench. For the rest of spring training, manager David Bell has said he plans to get a close look at Aquino to determine how the team can use him best.
“I haven’t really tied Aquino’s role on this team strictly to (Akiyama’s) presence or while he’s out,” Bell said. “He’s looking better and better, he’s getting more consistent, more comfortable with what he’s trying to do at the plate and taking more swings, and that’s the focus. That’s the part he can control. If he does that, we’ve talked many times about his talent and the upside, the sky is the limit.”