Nuno enjoys taking on former 'mates in the Bronx

Nuno enjoys taking on former 'mates in the Bronx

NEW YORK -- Vidal Nuno says it without rancor. He enjoys facing the Yankees, his former team, at Yankee Stadium. And for good reason, judging by his results.

The 28-year-old California native, who made his Major League debut with the New York in 2013, has pitched five shutout innings in five relief outings for the Mariners in the Bronx since being acquired last July from Arizona. He's been near perfect in five frames, including a key 1 1/3-inning situation during Friday's 7-1 series-opening win and a scoreless sixth in Saturday's 3-2 victory.

"Oh, definitely," Nuno said, when asked if there's a little something special about facing the Yanks. "Coming out here and showing the guys that I can do it, it's fun competing against guys I know and everything."

With Charlie Furbush sidelined by a sore left shoulder, Nuno has been thrust into the Mariners lefty setup role, and he's handled it well so far. He came into a bases-loaded situation on Friday in the sixth inning of a 3-1 game and induced Mark Teixeira's groundout to short, then set the Yankees down in order in the seventh.

He allowed a leadoff double to Austin Romine in the sixth on Saturday -- the first hit he's given up to the Yankees in those five outings -- but escaped unscathed after catching Romine off second on a comebacker to the mound.

Nuno, who has a 1.69 ERA in his first four appearances of the season, says he fine-tuned some pitches while throwing in Venezuela this winter and has felt good all spring.

"The game is slow to me, right now," said Nuno. "It's just going out there and relaxing and making my pitches."

Nuno has been a swingman in the past. He's started 41 games in his MLB career, including 10 last season after being acquired by the Mariners from the D-backs along with Mark Trumbo. But with Seattle's deep rotation this spring, he knew from Day 1 in camp that he'd be relieving in 2016.

"I do like him in the bullpen," manager Scott Servais said. "I like the fact he can throw all his pitches for strikes in any count. He doesn't get locked in. He really pitches, he's not just going to go out there and stoke you, which is great."

WORTH NOTING

• With Kyle Seager hitting .132 after stranding eight runners in Friday's win, Servais started Luis Sardinas at third base on Saturday. Seager started 159 games in 2015 and played in 161, second in the Majors behind the 162 of Baltimore's Manny Machado.

"It gives Kyle a little breather," Servais said. "Kyle is a grinder. He's a team guy and he's had some bad luck. A day off won't hurt him. ... He's our guy. There's no doubt there. It's just a day off."

Seager's late two-run single

Said Seager: "I don't feel as bad as the numbers are, but when it's early in the season, this kind of stuff gets magnified. Obviously, I'd like to be doing better. I've had a lot of opportunities where I haven't gotten guys in or I've had the opportunity to definitely have better at-bats. But it'll be alright. I think I know what the issue has been, and it's just a matter of getting in there and fixing it."

• Left-hander James Paxton gave up seven runs and seven hits over 2 1/3 innings in Triple-A Tacoma's 11-6 loss at Albuquerque on Friday. His ERA sits at 11.37 after two starts.

Catcher Mike Zunino went 3-for-4 with a home run and is batting .400 with two homers in six games, while first baseman Stefen Romero also went 3-for-4 with a triple and homer and is batting .412 in eight games.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.