Nuno's success comes as great relief

Lefty fanned 20 over first 19 appearances out of 'pen

Nuno's success comes as great relief

SEATTLE -- While Mike Montgomery has been garnering considerable attention for his transition from a starting role to a standout lefty in the Mariners' bullpen, another Seattle southpaw has been quietly going about his business in equally impressive fashion.

Veteran Vidal Nuno has put up even better numbers than Montgomery to this point, with a 1.08 ERA and 20 strikeouts with just one walk in 16 2/3 innings over 19 appearances. Like Montgomery, Nuno was primarily a starter in the past, though he pitched in relief at times for both the Yankees and D-backs before being acquired by Seattle in midseason last year.

Nuno's numbers clearly have been better in relief, however. He's 4-17 with a 4.31 ERA in 41 Major League starts compared to 0-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 49 games out of the bullpen. The Mariners told Nuno he'd be a reliever from the start this spring and he has thrived.

"I wanted a role, and had to do good, so that really helped," said Nuno, who like Montgomery is out of Minor League options and needed to make the 25-man roster in Spring Training. "I worked on my changeup and I'm throwing that a little more now instead of just my fastball. Previous years they were just sitting on my fastball and I was making mistakes. The changeup helps a lot to make my fastball more effective."

Mariners manager Scott Servais appreciates the versatility and results he has received from the 28-year-old California native.

"He's been really good against both righties and lefties," Servais said. "He doesn't walk anybody and that really sticks out. You put him in the game and there's action. He's one of the guys that can get us a ground ball. And it really doesn't matter what inning or what role he's in, he just takes the ball and says, 'This is who I am.'

"He's got history as a starter, so he can work his way through an entire lineup if you need him to. And also come in and flip a switch-hitter around or just get a lefty. I'm really happy with the way he's throwing the ball."

Nuno fans Dickerson in the 7th

Nuno pitched 2 2/3 innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts in Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Twins, giving him a stretch of 11 straight scoreless outings. He's allowed just five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings over that span.

"My mindset is right, my mechanics are intact and [Chris] Iannetta and [Steve] Clevenger are calling great games for me whenever I get out there," Nuno said. "They know my game plan and most of the time I'm staying out of the middle of the zone. I'm in or out, so that's the key. And then let the defense do the work."

Worth noting

• Shortstop Ketel Marte is scheduled to report to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to begin a four-game rehab stint as he works back from the sprained left thumb that will keep him on the 15-day disabled list until June 6.

"He feels great, 100 percent, so he should be good to go," Servais said.

Marte's bases-clearing triple

• Center fielder Leonys Martin, on the DL until June 10 with a strained left hamstring, will accompany the Mariners on their upcoming five-game road trip to San Diego and Texas before he will likely play a couple of rehab games with Tacoma.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. 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.