ST. PETERSBURG -- Building bullpen depth has been an elusive goal for the Mariners this season, as their relief crew took another hit Friday with right-handers Juan Nicasio and Dan Altavilla both being placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday.Nicasio has right knee effusion -- which is swelling
ST. PETERSBURG -- Building bullpen depth has been an elusive goal for the Mariners this season, as their relief crew took another hit Friday with right-handers Juan Nicasio and Dan Altavilla both being placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday.
Nicasio has right knee effusion -- which is swelling or fluid in the knee -- while Altavilla is dealing with a sprained right elbow.
The Mariners selected Mike Morin, a 27-year-old right-hander, from Triple-A Tacoma to bolster the bullpen, and recalled first baseman Daniel Vogelbach from Tacoma to take the other roster spot. He started at first base and hit ninth in Friday night's game against the Rays.
Nicasio's departure leaves closer Edwin Diaz as the only right-hander who has been on the big league roster all season, with newcomer Alex Colome and early-season callups Ryan Cook and Chasen Bradford now assuming more important roles.
Nicasio was the Mariners' primary offseason free-agent acquisition, signing a two-year, $17 million deal after leading the Majors with 76 relief appearances and posting a 2.61 ERA for the Pirates, Phillies and Cardinals.
Nicasio had been on an overpowering run of late until giving up four runs (three earned) on four straight hits without recording an out in Wednesday's 7-5 loss at Houston. The 31-year-old struggled earlier in the year and his ERA jumped back up nearly a point to 5.34 with the rough outing against the Astros, but prior to that, he'd retired 26 of 29 batters with 16 strikeouts over eight scoreless appearances.
"It's his right knee, which is his push-off leg," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He just didn't look comfortable the other night with his fastball, which is why we saw him go with a lot of breaking pitches. He didn't have the same velocity or life on the ball. So it probably played somewhat into how things went the other night."
Nicasio said the knee had been sore for about three weeks, but it got worse in recent days and was a factor in Houston.
"Sometimes my fastball is slowing down because I can't push," Nicasio said. "But I'll be OK. A couple days and I'll come back."
The acquisition of Colome from the Rays two weeks ago has proven to be fortuitous as the Mariners have now lost their two primary setup men -- Nicasio and Nick Vincent -- to injuries since his arrival.
Vincent is on the DL with a strained right groin, but he has been throwing this week in Seattle and will head to Class A Advanced Modesto this weekend to pitch a rehab game. Servais said he could rejoin the club at some point next week if all goes well.
The Mariners also lost David Phelps, another setup option, to Tommy John surgery in Spring Training.
Altavilla is 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 22 appearances over two stints with the Mariners this season. The 25-year-old had already gone on the DL earlier this year with inflammation in his right shoulder. He was having an MRI test on Friday before flying back to Seattle to see the Mariners' physicians.
Morin doesn't figure to handle the late-inning duties, but he is another reliever with Major League experience -- a 10-8 record and a 4.61 ERA over 183 games in four seasons with the Angels and Royals -- and he has pitched well for Tacoma this year.
After being claimed off waivers in December, Morin has gone 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings over 20 appearances for the Rainiers. He had to be added to the 40-man roster, which now has no open spots.
Vogelbach returns for his third stint with the Mariners this season. After a huge Spring Training, he has posted a .200/.333/.333 line with two homers and five RBIs in 72 plate appearances over 22 games with the big league club.
In 33 games with Tacoma, Vogelbach has put up a .304/.445/.643 line with 10 homers and 24 RBIs.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.