Phelps was injured after throwing his seventh pitch of the outing.
KANSAS CITY — From the moment the ball left his right hand, David Phelps knew something was wrong. In the bottom of the seventh inning on his seventh pitch of his appearance, Phelps threw a 93 mph fastball to Drew Butera on a 3-2 count. Butera hit a soft fly ball for the first out of the inning.
But right after delivering the pitch, Phelps appeared to be in pain and motioned for the Mariners’ trainers to come to the mound.
Head athletic trainer Rick Griffin and manager Scott Servais hurried to the mound. After a brief conversation, Phelps exited the game with Griffin.
The early diagnosis from the Mariners’ medical staff was that Phelps left the game with right elbow discomfort, which is never a good thing. Phelps will fly back to Seattle immediately and meet with team doctors on Monday.
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“The last couple of times out, I just really haven’t gotten loose like I have in the past,” he said. “As far as getting loose out of the bullpen, it is fine, but as soon as I get in the game it’s a little tight. I can tell the ball just isn’t coming out and my stuff hasn’t really been the same. In the past, I’ve pitched through things until I broke my arm. I thought it was better to let (trainers) come out. They’ve known about it and we’ve been treating it.”
Phelps pitched on Friday night, throwing a scoreless frame. But he pointed back to his outing on July 31 vs. the Rangers where it was an issue. It felt the same against the Royals.
“There was no pop or nothing like that,” he said. “After the outing in Texas, I had just tightness in the back, nothing down in the meat of the elbow, more just in the bone. I’m not really that concerned about it. But your body will tell you when something is not right and it’s more or less what I felt.”
This isn’t anything he’s dealt with in past years. He missed time with a stress fracture in his elbow in 2015.
“I’ve had a litany of elbow injuries, things that have forced me to not throw,” he said. “But I’ve been still playing catch. I’ve been warming up in the bullpen. My command is still there but I can tell the ball just isn’t coming out the way I want it to right now. Where we are at as a team, I figured it was better to nip it in the bud instead of trying to go out and be a hero and cost us some games.”
The first fastballs of the innings that Phelps threw were all around 90 mph, down from his typical average of 95 mph. And he knew it.
“There are radar guns all over the stadium,” he said. “I look up and see I’m throwing the ball 90 miles per hour and I know the ball is not coming out right. That last pitch I decided was going to stand on this one and it was at that extension where I felt it.”
On a day when the Mariners were playing doubleheader and starting pitcher Marco Gonzales only pitched into the fifth inning of Game 1, losing a reliever was less than ideal. But losing the recently-acquired Phelps, a valued set-up man that had been dominant in his brief time with the team, is a major concern.