When I interviewed Tom Wilhelmsen two weeks ago for the pregame show, I asked the Mariners reliever if he ever gave any thought to converting back to a starter. There have been whispers about the possibilities, he has the array of pitches a starter needs and has had no problem with longer outings out of the bullpen.
"No, no, it's not. I do love the bullpen," he answered. "My main concern is whatever spot I need to fill to help be a part of this club and to help win ballgames, I'd be more than happy to do it. If that is a spot start and I can get three or four innings and help us out, I am happy to do that. If it is get one out in the seventh inning, I'm happy to do that."
Manager Lloyd McClendon is hoping to get about 50 pitches and hopefully three innings out of Wilhelmsen, who is making his first big league start Thursday. He's made three three-inning appearances out of the bullpen this year, but Wilhelmsen never threw more than 38 pitches. His plan is not to change anything in the start, go all out from the beginning and use all of his pitches, so we shall see how this translates.
Wilhelmsen did not change anything in his pregame routine. He headed out early with the relievers and got his normal throwing in. He appeared as loose as he usually is before a game but unfortunately did not get to dance. Yes dance. If you haven't seen it, you must. For the last two weeks, when the song "Turn Down for What" has been played during batting practice, Wilhelmsen has stopped whatever he was doing at the time and turned it loose with the dance moves. Yesterday, pitching coach Rick Waits was talking with Wilhelmsen when the song came on and joined in. The scene was caught on video and that video has gone viral.
I asked Wilhelmsen on the last homestand what his inspiration was for the dance moves and the answer is almost as priceless as the video. The audio from that interview can be found here.
Endy Chavez, 7
James Jones, 8
Robinson Cano, 4
Kyle Seager, 5
Corey Hart, DH
Logan Morrison, 3
Michael Saunders, 7
Mike Zunino, 2
Willie Bloomquist, 9
• Tonight will be Wilhelmsen's 191st big-league appearance, but his first start. He has made 43 minor-league starts, including two last year with the Triple-A Rainiers.
• Lucas Luetge has been called up to take the place of Stephen Pryor in the bullpen.
• The Mariners are one for their last 30 with runners in scoring position.