Mariners reliver Phelps to miss season with arm injury

Mike Zunino hits three home runs in Seattle’s win over Milwaukee.

As if the Seattle Mariners weren’t tortured enough by injuries.

Add another one.

They’ve spent this offseason knocking on wood and swearing there’s no way last year’s injury-riddled season could happen again. But for the second consecutive year, the Mariners lost one of their projected key pitchers before the season could even begin.

Right-handed set-up reliever David Phelps will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm, which will require Tommy John Surgery and a 12-15 month recovery.

He suffered the injury on the final pitch of his last outing on Saturday against the Angels.

Phelps was projected to be a key piece in the Mariners bullpen, which general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais had previewed this offseason as one of the strongest position groups on the club.

The usually positive-outlooked Jerry Dipoto knew he couldn’t sugarcoat the injury and its ramifications for the bullpen. Especially in the wake of using 40 total pitchers all of last season because of injuries.

That was a franchise record and he second-most used in MLB history.

If there’s a silver lining, if the Mariners were going to lose a player for the season, they are most set to with some depth in the bullpen. One of their biggest offseason acquisitions was right-handed reliever Juan Nicasio, although they would have liked the back-end setup of Phelps, Nicasio and Nick Vincent to pave the way for clover Edwin Diaz.

This means they’ll rely heavier on Vincent, too, after he appeared in 642/3 innings with a 3.20 ERA. Vincent threw the sixth-most innings on the team last season.

The Mariners acquired Phelps in a July trade from the Marlins for four prospects: outfielder Brayan Hernandez, and right-handed pitchers Pablo Lopez, Brandon Miller, and Lukas Schiraldi.

He pitched 82/3 innings for the Mariners after the July 20 trade from Miami because he spent two stints on the disabled list, including undergoing season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur on Sept. 13. Dipoto said the UCL tear was unrelated to the bone chip.

Phelps’ season-ending injury comes after the Mariners lost right-handed starter Drew Smyly for the season during spring training last year, also to a torn UCL.

M’s claim reliever

The Mariners added some minor-league bullpen depth and claimed left-hander Dario Alvarez off of waivers from the Chicago Cubs, the team announced Wednesday.

Alvarez was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and he’ll report to minor league camp on Thursday. Alvarez appeared in 161/3 innings for the Rangers last season, striking out 17 while posting a 2.76 ERA.

Zunino leads Seattle to win

PEORIA, Ariz. — Mike Zunino went 4-for-4 with three home runs Wednesday to lead the Mariners to a 7-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in a spring training game at Peoria Stadium.

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