Mariners lose reliever David Phelps for season with torn UCL
For the second year in a row, the Mariners have lost a pitcher for the season in the final stretch of spring training.
This time it is right-handed reliever David Phelps, who sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament on his last pitch against the Angels last Saturday. He will undergo Tommy John surgery, the same procedure former Mariners pitcher Drew Smyly underwent in 2017 after he was injured late in spring training.
Smyly never pitched in a regular season game for the Mariners, eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery after a failed attempt to rehab his initial injury. And while Phelps did appear in 10 games last year for Seattle after being acquired from the Miami Marlins, it’s easy to see a similarity between the two cases. The typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, and Phelps will be a free agent after the season, meaning he will have made a limited impact on the field for Seattle before his contract is up.
Following surgery, Phelps will do his rehab work in Seattle with the Mariners.
Phelps, 31, hit the disabled list with an elbow impingement in early August 2017, and he was out of action again by September, making just three appearances in between his two DL stints. He underwent elbow surgery late in the season to remove bone chips.
Phelps had a 2-1 record with a 3.12 ERA and three holds in his time with the M’s, and was 4-5 with a 3.40 ERA and 21 holds over 54 combined appearances with Seattle and Miami.
The injury to Phelps, who figured to be in the mix as a right-handed set-up man with Juan Nicasio and Nick Vincent, will provide an opportunity for a competition for the final bullpen spot out of spring training. It may also present a chance for Dan Altavilla, who has been a standout this spring, to get more high-leverage appearances than initially planned.