SEATTLE -- Tom Wilhelmsen has struggled a bit lately in the closer role, and it came to a head with a blown save Aug. 24 in Chicago. The first-year closer has polished off two games successfully since then, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge wanted to pitch Wilhelmsen in a non-save situation to alleviate some pressure.
That opportunity arose on Saturday, when he allowed a walk to Torii Hunter, who eventually reached third base, but Wilhelmsen escaped the inning without allowing a run.
"It was better, I thought," Wedge said. "I felt like he was more aggressive. I felt like he was closer to what we've seen when he's been at his best. He wasn't quite at his best, but it was definitely better. So it was good, some good indicators there."
Wilhelmsen is 21-for-24 in save opportunities, but Wedge said it's almost inevitable for a closer to not experience a rough game. It's essential, though, for a pitcher to immediately start working back from that. On Saturday, the second-year Mariners manager saw some good indicators that the right-hander was making physical adjustments.
Wilhelmsen, on the other hand, was glad he made an appearance in a non-save situation because it eliminated the stress. Considering he doesn't believe the problem is fully physical, it was a good step.
"I'm willing to bet that the majority of it would be mental," he said. "That's, I guess, another reason why it was good I went in yesterday."