Long reliever Vidal Nuno mentioned recently that he hoped the Mariners would give him a chance to pitch as a starter.
That chance, it appears, will come Tuesday at Colorado.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed Sunday that “as of right now, it will be Nuno to pitch on Tuesday.”
McClendon then cautioned: “I would just say it’s a spot start. I’m not saying he’s in the rotation.”
Nuno fills the vacancy created by the trade that sent J.A. Happ to Pittsburgh. Nuno has a 2.11 ERA in 18 relief appearances over 211/3 innings since arriving June 3 from Arizona in a trade.
“I’m excited,” he admitted. “I can’t wait.”
The Mariners opted for Nuno instead of recalling lefty Roenis Elias from Triple-A Tacoma. Elias was 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA earlier this year in 13 big-league starts, but has struggled since his demotion to the Rainiers.
“ I don’t think you should promote kids to the big leagues for mediocrity,” McClendon said. “You’ve got to do well. That’s one of the things we’re trying to do here; we’re trying to change the culture.
“You have to perform. He’s got to pitch well down there to be promoted.”
Elias has allowed 24 earned runs and 40 hits in 272/3 innings over his last six starts at Tacoma. He gave up six runs in two-thirds of an inning Saturday in a 8-4 loss to Las Vegas (Mets).
While Nuno hasn’t pitched more than 31/3 innings in his 18 relief outings, the Mariners appear positioned for what amounts to a “bullpen day” because they are carrying seven other relievers.
“He can go five (innings) easy,” McClendon said. “He’s very durable, and he’s rested now. So he’s ready to go.”
A still-slowed Robinson Cano is vowing to return to the field Monday when the Mariners open a three-game series in Colorado.
Cano nursed his strained abdominal muscle through the last two games as a designated hitter.
The games in Colorado will be played under National League rules, which means no DH.
“I’ll be in there (Monday),” Cano said. “Even on one leg, I’m going to play.”
McClendon said the Mariners will “revisit” Cano’s injury on Monday and “see where we are.”
Cano suffered the injury last Tuesday and missed three games before going 1 for 8 over the last two games as the DH.
Jesus Montero didn’t start Sunday’s series finale against Minnesota as a precaution after being involved in a collision at first base with Eddie Rosario in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game.
“I just want to be careful and to make sure,” McClendon said. “He’s had a history of concussions in the past.”
Montero entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning and delivered a double. He was replaced at the end of the inning. Afterward, he said he felt fine.
Saturday’s collision occurred when Montero reached for an off-line throw from second baseman Ketel Marte on Rosario’s grounder up the middle.
Montero remained in Saturday’s game until exiting for a pinch runner in the seventh inning after a leadoff single.
Lefty reliever Charlie Furbush reported no problems after throwing 33 fastballs in a bullpen workout that marked the latest test in his recovery from biceps tendinitis.
A revised timetable has Furbush having one more bullpen workout on Wednesday before departing on what projects as a brief rehab assignment to Tacoma.
Previous plans called for Furbush to throw his next session on Tuesday. He hasn’t pitched since working one inning in a July 7 victory over Detroit at Safeco Field.
Furbush is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 33 games and has stranded all 16 of his inherited runners.
THREE AND COUNTING
McClendon was ejected Saturday for the third time this season. That makes 32 career ejections for McClendon, including nine in his two seasons with the Mariners.
Saturday’s ejection occurred in the ninth inning when McClendon raised his arms while seated at the bench as a sign of disagreement with a check-swing call by first-base umpire Mike Muchlinski.
McClendon’s other ejections:
▪ April 26 by home-plate umpire Sean Barber in a 4-2 loss to the Twins at Safeco Field.
▪ June 2 by first-base umpire Will Little along with catcher Mike Zunino on a check-swing call in a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees at Safeco Field.
Short-A Everett shortstop Drew Jackson took over the batting lead in the Northwest League by pushing his average to .377 when he went 4 for 5 in Saturday’s 11-7 victory at Salem-Keizer (Giants).
Jackson, 22, entered Sunday on a 25-for-43 surge (.543) over his last 11 games. He was recently picked to start for the Northwest League in its All-Star Game against the Pioneer League on Tuesday in Spokane.
The Mariners selected Jackson in the fifth round of this year’s draft.
ALEX JACKSON INJURED
Everett outfielder Alex Jackson, the organization’s top prospect, was placed on the seven-day disabled list because of an injured left hand after being transferred to Lo-A Clinton.
Jackson, 19, is expected to miss one to two weeks. He was the Mariners’ top pick in the 2014 draft and was batting .259 in 23 games for the AquaSox with two homers and 11 RBIs.
Transferring Jackson to Clinton was, essentially, a paper transaction because the Mariners had no space available on Everett’s roster after assigning left-hander relievers Nick Wells and Jake Brentz to the AquaSox.
The Mariners obtained Wells and Brentz from Toronto in the July 31 trade for veteran reliever Mark Lowe. Jackson is expected to return to Everett when he’s ready to resume playing.
It was 23 years ago — Aug. 3, 1992 — that Edgar Martinez was named as the American League player of the month for July after batting .388 (38 for 98) with three homers and 12 RBIs in 25 games,
Martinez took over the AL batting lead on July 31 and never relinquished it in finishing with a .343 average for the first of his two batting titles.
Rookie infielder Ketel Marte went 3 for 4 with a walk in five plate appearances Sunday. He is 4 for 12 with two walks in three games since his recall from Triple-A Tacoma. … Fernando Rodney has not allowed a run or a hit over 41/3 innings in his last three appearances. That comes after giving up runs in six of his previous eight outings. … Nelson Cruz’s 22 road homers are the most in the majors. Prior to Sunday, Angels outfielder Mike Trout ranked second with 16. … Cruz also extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the first inning Sunday. … The Cubs designated former Mariners reliever Yoervis Medina for assignment. The Mariners traded him to Chicago on May 19 for catcher Welington Castillo. …The Mariners are 8-7 in extra-inning games.
The Mariners and Rockies open a three-game series at 5:40 p.m. PDT Monday at Coors Field in Denver. Right-hander Felix Hernandez (12-6, 3.02) will face Colorado right-hander Eddie Butler (3-7, 4.82).