McClendon intrigued by Wilhelmsen as starter

McClendon intrigued by Wilhelmsen as starter

SEATTLE -- Though he acknowledged no such move is imminent, Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon reiterated Friday that he's intrigued by the idea of Tom Wilhelmsen as a starting pitcher after the big right-hander made a spot start in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Twins.

Wilhelmsen allowed one hit and two runs (one earned) in 2 2/3 innings in the first start of his Major League career as the Mariners went with an all-bullpen day. But McClendon said he feels the club should at least ponder the idea of moving the 30-year-old into that role on a permanent basis at some point.

"I think we do," McClendon said. "I mean, I think it would be awfully hard to build him this year, but certainly going into Spring Training that's something we would probably entertain. Why not? He's 94-97 [mph] with real good sink, he's got a cutter, curveball, slider, changeup and is a power guy who has flourished in the long roles. And he's mature enough probably to handle it."

Wilhelmsen ranks eighth in Mariners history with 54 career saves and has excelled in longer relief and setup roles this year with a 2.54 ERA in 34 games. He threw 54 pitches Thursday before turning things over to his fellow bullpen mates.

"I liked what I saw yesterday," McClendon said prior to Friday's series opener with the A's. "He was pretty clean for the most part. He got tired in the third because the pitch count got up, but I thought it was pretty good."

As for whether it might be difficult to persuade Wilhelmsen to try converting to a rotation spot after he's been part of Seattle's bullpen all four of his seasons in the Majors, McClendon just laughed.

"I don't think it's a hard sell from relieving to starting and the potential from a financial standpoint," he said. "I don't think it's a hard sell at all."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.