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Seattle Mariners

Bryan Woo scratched from Tuesday start as Mariners await MRI results

Bryan Woo of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at Oakland Coliseum on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Oakland, California.  (Tribune News Service)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

Bryan Woo, the Mariners’ electric young right-hander off to the best start by a pitcher in club history, was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night as the team awaits results of an MRI on his right elbow.

Veteran left-hander Jhonathan Diaz was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma to start in Woo’s stead against the Chicago White Sox.

Manager Scott Servais did not want to jump to conclusions before the team’s medical staff has a chance to review the scans on Woo’s arm, but he acknowledged there is concern any time a pitcher can’t make a scheduled start.

Given Woo’s medical history, there would seem to be heightened concern in this case.

Woo, 24, missed the first six weeks of the season with inflammation in his right elbow. As a rookie last year, he also had a three-week stint on the injured list last August with similar elbow discomfort.

In college, Woo had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in the spring of 2021.

Servais did not want to speculate on the specific nature of Woo’s situation this time around. He also did not rule out another IL stint for Woo in the coming days.

“He has gone through things like this before and come out just fine with it,” Servais said Tuesday afternoon. “I know he’s a little frustrated. He wants to get out there and pitch. He’s off to such a great start. The six starts he’s had this year have just been awesome.

“I don’t want to get out ahead of ourselves. We’ve just got to wait to have more information and see where it goes from there.”

In his six starts this season, Woo is 3-0 with 24 strikeouts, two walks, 16 hits and four runs allowed in 33.2 innings.

His 1.07 ERA through the first six starts of a season is the lowest in franchise history, surpassing Randy Johnson’s 1.21 ERA to start the 1995 season.

The Mariners have won all six of Woo’s starts, and the coaching staff has been intentionally careful with his workload.

Woo threw a season-high 85 pitches in his last start, a homecoming victory in Oakland last week. He was pulled after 66 pitches in his start before that, on May 31, when we threw six scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

Last month, Woo had reported feeling some stiffness a couple days after one of his starts and he oped to skip his usual between-starts bullpen session then. He still made his next start as scheduled.

He tried the same approach earlier this week — skipping his bullpen session, in which starters typically throw 20-30 pitches at roughly 90% effort — but he reported to the team Monday that he was still feeling some discomfort.

Servais said the team made the decision Monday night to have Woo skip his start Tuesday and have the medical scans.

“He wants to get back as soon as he can,” Servais said. “I don’t know when that’s going to be. Could be the next series; could be the following series. I don’t know. He may end up being an IL stint and we’ll just give him, you know, a couple of weeks down and we’ll see where it goes from there. But those decisions haven’t been made yet.”

Diaz gets the call

A 27-year-old Venezuelan with big-league experience, Diaz has been one of the most effective pitchers in the Pacific Coast League this season, posting a 7-1 record with a 2.98 ERA in 12 games (11 starts).

Diaz appeared in 11 games, with six starts, for the Angels across three season from 2021-23. The Mariners signed Diaz to a minor-league free-agent contract in February.

Diaz got the call-up from Tacoma over other potential options — such Emerson Hancock — because he was was fully rested to pitch Tuesday. His last appearance for the Rainiers was June 5.

Hancock, 25, had opened the season as the Mariners’ No. 5 starter.

In five starts with Tacoma, Hancock is 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA, with 26 strikeouts in 29 innings. He’s held Triple-A hitters to a .193 batting average.

Bullpen shuffles again

To make room for Diaz on the roster, the Mariners designated relievers Kirby Snead and Matt Bowman for assignment.

Right-hander Eduard Bazardo was also recalled from Tacoma.

The Mariners’ bullpen has been in flux of late, and Andrés Muñoz remains limited because of a lingering back issue.

“We’re kind of in murky waters right now trying to get through this thing the best we can, along with not having full availability of Andrés Muñoz,” Servais said. “These things happen throughout the course of the season. And this is where you really lean on your depth.”

Snead, 29, posted a 4.35 ERA (five runs in 10.1 IP) in 11 appearances for the Mariners. He became the 1,000th player in franchise history when he made his debut for the Mariners on May 8 at Minnesota.

Bowman pitched two-thirds of an inning against the White Sox on Monday in his only appearance for the Mariners.

Bowman has now been designated for assignment three times by three teams (Minnesota, Arizona, Seattle) in the first 10 weeks of the season.