MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-handed reliever Vidal Nuno will make his first start with the Mariners on Tuesday against the Rockies at Coors Field, manager Lloyd McClendon said Sunday, as Seattle fills the opening created by the trade of J.A. Happ to the Pirates.
McClendon said he'd characterize it as a "spot start" for now as he's not ready to anoint Nuno as a permanent member of the rotation yet. But the 28-year-old from California does have starting experience, as he was a full-time member of the Yankees' and D-backs' rotations last year and started eight games for Arizona's Triple-A Reno club this season (3-3, 3.38 ERA) before being acquired by Seattle on June 3 in the Mark Trumbo trade.
Nuno is 3-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 31 career starts, and 0-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 26 relief appearances in his three seasons in the Majors.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder has pitched well for the Mariners, posting a 2.11 ERA in 21 1/3 innings over 18 relief outings.
The Mariners currently have an eight-man bullpen, which makes it easier to absorb a start by Nuno.
"He can go five easily if we need him to," McClendon said. "He's very durable and he's rested now, so he's ready to go."
Left-hander Roenis Elias seemed the logical replacement for Happ, having gone 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 13 starts for Seattle earlier in the year and after pitching well last year as a rookie. But Elias has put up a 7.89 ERA in nine starts for Tacoma and lasted just two-thirds of an inning while allowing six runs on five hits and a walk on Saturday in Las Vegas.
"I don't think you ought to promote kids to the big leagues for mediocrity," McClendon said. "You have to do well. That's one of the things we're trying to change with the culture here. You have to perform. He's got to pitch well down there to be promoted."