Fatherhood has driven Angels reliever Carson Fulmer to stay in the majors

Fatherhood has driven Angels reliever Carson Fulmer to stay in the majors

PHOENIX — When the Seattle Mariners released Carson Fulmer at the end of spring training in 2023, he thought it might have been the end of living his dream as a big leaguer.

Even worse, it had come before he could experience another dream, having his son see him pitch in the majors.

Fulmer and his wife were expecting their first child just a few months after the Mariners released him. During that time, he sat at home, essentially staring into the abyss.

“I know what it feels like to see the end of the tunnel,” Fulmer recalled recently.

Two months after the Mariners released Fulmer, the Angels signed him to a minor league deal. Two weeks after that, his son was born.

About three months later, Fulmer was back in the majors, with the Angels. He parlayed that into another minor league deal with the Angels in 2024, and he’s now been in the majors for the last two months.

“I’m playing for a lot more than myself right now,” Fulmer said. “I have a boy and I want him to watch me play. That’s more of an incentive to go out and not only be ready to pitch, but to have success so I can stick around a lot longer.”

Fulmer, 30, has a ERA of 3.00 through 27 innings this season, helping him avoid some of the normal roster churn with long relievers. He’s pitched well enough that Manager Ron Washington said he will get some more high-leverage opportunities while right-hander Adam Cimber sorts out his slump.

“In this game, you never want to be comfortable, because you never know what’s going to happen,” Fulmer said. “But I have worked as hard as I possibly can to stick around and make an impact.”

These days Fulmer doesn’t have to worry that he will be the one who gets designated for assignment when the Angels need to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Earlier this season, he admits that those thoughts crossed his mind.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that,” he said. “Just with my past, this is my eighth team. I know what it feels like to be in that situation.”

Fulmer was a top prospect at Vanderbilt, and he was the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, by the Chicago White Sox. He reached the big leagues with the White Sox the following season, and for the next few years he bounced between the majors and Triple-A.

Then he began his journey around professional baseball, going to the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Dodgers. After spring training with the Mariners in 2023, the phone stopped ringing.

As Fulmer waited for a call and to become a father, he began to think about what he could do after baseball.

“I honestly didn’t have any (ideas),” Fulmer said with a smile last September, after he was back in the big leagues with the Angels.

The Angels gave Fulmer an opportunity and he says he’s treated it with a new level of intensity, since his son was born.

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“It kicked my ass in gear,” Fulmer said of becoming a father. “It gave me a new perspective… I have a different perspective and appreciation for things. I want to stick for as long as I can.”

Fulmer, whose son will celebrate his first birthday on Father’s Day this Sunday, has already been able to bring the baby to the ballpark. Fulmer will have to stick around a few more years for the boy to be old enough to really appreciate and remember seeing his dad in the majors.

Getting to that point drives Fulmer.

“I’ve achieved the majority of goals that I set in my career, but being established in the big leagues is still something I haven’t achieved yet,” Fulmer said. “It has definitely continued to push me. It’s a long year, so I hope I can show this organization and the rest of major league baseball that I’m supposed to be here.”

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP José Suarez, 1-0, 6.54 ERA) at Diamondbacks (LHP Jordan Montgomery, 3-4, 6.80 ERA), Tuesday, 6:40 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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