Right-hander Dan Altavilla was recalled from Class AAA Tacoma to take Zych's place in the bullpen.
ATLANTA — Just as one key reliever appears ready to return from injury, the Mariners lost another one to injury.
With right-hander David Phelps ready to return from the disabled list in the next few days and bolster the back of the bullpen, fellow right-hander Tony Zych was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with a flexor bundle strain. Right-hander Dan Altavilla was recalled from Class AAA Tacoma to take Zych’s spot on the 25-man roster.
“The stuff hasn’t been coming out as crisp lately,” manager Scott Servais said. “We saw some command issues a couple of outings a go and not getting the ball where he wants it to go. It’s probably the best thing to just give it 10 days to let it calm down and go from there.”
Zych last appeared in a game on Friday, pitching 1/3 of an inning. But in the last few weeks, he’s dealt with some residual soreness and fatigue following outings. His fastball velocity had dipped down a few ticks to 90-93 mph. The Mariners tried to give extra rest days to combat the issue, but it hasn’t responded. It got to a point on Monday where a disabled list stint was needed.
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“It just a got a little tight yesterday when I was warming up,” Zych said. “And afterward, it kept getting tight. So we are just being a little cautious and take 10 days. Hopefully I only need a few off and then get back on track.”
The plan is for Zych to not throw for at least three days and then have the forearm re-evaluated.
Zych underwent offseason surgery to repair and reset his biceps tendon. He started the season on the disabled list while trying to build up innings and strength. The Mariners have been careful all season to not use him three days in a row or three out of four days.
“There’s day when it was a little fatigued,” he said of his arm. “Bu with the forearm getting tight, I just wanted to make everything right. I got a little work done on it and it was still a little tight today and just a little sore from throwing. I’m optimistic. I don’t think it’s anything bad.”
With some changes to his mechanics to protect the shoulder, Zych found more life on his slider and sinking fastball. He became a valuable asset in the sixth and seventh innings and showing the ability to more than inning at a time. He’s made 45 appearances this season, posting a 2.66 ERA with 35 strikeouts 21 walks in 40 2/3 innings pitched.
Altavilla returns to the Mariners bullpen for the fourth time this season. He’s been outstanding in his recent stint with Tacoma, posting a 1-0 record with 1.08 ERA and notching six saves in 15 appearances. In 16 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 26 batters with 12 walks.