Wilhelmsen returns to new-look Mariners

Wilhelmsen returns to new-look Mariners

Wilhelmsen returns to new-look Mariners
SEATTLE -- A few things have changed since Tom Wilhelmsen was sent down to Double-A Jackson on May 17, a fact it didn't take long for the 27-year-old to recognize as he reintroduced himself to the Mariners' clubhouse Tuesday after being recalled from the Minor Leagues.

"There are a lot of new people here," Wilhelmsen said. "I was going around today, 'Hi, I'm Tom. I'm a Sagittarius,' and all that."

Wilhelmsen was recalled to fill the void created by the trading of Doug Fister, Erik Bedard and David Pauley last weekend, which left the Mariners' roster at 24. Since Wilhelmsen's departure, the club has undergone a significant youth movement with the arrival of fellow rookies Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Greg Halman and Blake Beavan, and now the trade for Casper Wells and Charlie Furbush.

Meeting new people has never been a problem for Wilhelmsen, who worked as a bartender in Tucson, Ariz., for several years while he was out of baseball from 2006-09. Wilhelmsen was an interesting story when he first made the Mariners this spring, having never pitched above Class A ball when he cracked the club's 25-man Opening Day roster.

But now he'd like to do more than he showed in his first stint with Seattle, when he posted a 5.59 ERA in eight appearances out of the bullpen before getting optioned to Jackson.

The right-hander will return to the 'pen after working as a starter in Double-A, according to manager Eric Wedge. He fills the opening on the 25-man roster created by Sunday's trade of Bedard.

Wedge said the next spot start might be Aug. 23, when the Mariners are scheduled for a doubleheader in Cleveland, so the plan is for Wilhelmsen to resume a reliever role for now.

"We have to be careful with his innings," Wedge said. "We had him start for a while. Now we'll go from here."

Wilhelmsen went 4-5 in Jackson with a 5.49 ERA in 14 games, including 12 starts. He said the experience was beneficial, particularly given his long absence from the game and relative inexperience above Class A.

"It went well," he said. "It gave me more opportunities to work on the pitches I needed to work on. Changeups, locating my fastball. I enjoyed it and it's still a work in progress, but much better now than when I left. I liked it."

But, no, he hadn't given up on his dream of returning to the Majors after his brief taste at the start of this season.

"Yeah, I was hoping," he said. "In the back of my mind it was always a thought. You've got to set your goals, you know?"