By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
The spot start Thursday by long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen figures to be a one-time thing this season. But next year and beyond, who knows? He might be a candidate for the rotation.
“Why not?” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon asked. “He’s 94 to 97 (mph) with real good sink. He’s got a cutter, curveball, slider and change-up. He’s a power guy, a power arm, and he’s flourished in the long roles.
“I think it would be awfully hard to build him (as a starter) this year. But, certainly, going into spring training, I think that’s something we would probably entertain.”
Wilhelmsen gave up one earned run Thursday while throwing 54 pitches in 2? innings. He yielded just one hit but walked three.
“I liked what I saw,” McClendon said. “He was pretty clean for the most part. He got tired in the third inning when his pitch count got up.”
Philadelphia outfielder Marlon Byrd told CSNPhilly.com that the Mariners are one of four clubs covered by a no-trade clause in his two-year, $16 million contract.
That’s noteworthy because Byrd, 36, is often cited among the Mariners’ potential trade targets in efforts to acquire an impact right-handed bat. But he also indicated the clause is not necessarily a deal-killer.
Bryd said: “There would have to be a conversation with me, my agent and Ruben (Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ general manager) if it gets to that point.”
Players often agree to waive no-trade clauses in return for additional compensation. Byrd’s clause also covers Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Byrd said he put Tampa Bay and Toronto on his list because he prefers not to play regularly on artificial turf. As for the Mariners and Royals, he said: “Those really are things that were just put on at the time being.”
Byrd is batting .261 in 91 games with 15 homers and 62 RBI. His contract has an $8 million option for 2016 that triggers if he gets 600 plate appearances in 2015. He has reached 600 only once in his career.
The Mariners entered the weekend as the only club in either league to have seven relievers with at least 30 appearances. None of their relievers, however, are among the top 36 in appearances.
Fernando Rodney, Danny Farquhar and Charlie Furbush lead the Mariners with 37 outings. Oakland right-hander Luke Gregerson leads the majors with 45 games. A’s lefty Fernando Abad is tied for second with three others at 44.
The Mariners ranked 22nd among the 30 clubs with 258 combined appearances and 24th in bullpen innings with 267.
The first 20,000 fans through the gates for tonight’s game will receive a Hisashi Iwakuma bobblehead doll, courtesy of Root Sports, as part of the Mariners’ Salute to Japan Night.
A tip: If you want an Iwakuma bobblehead, arrive early. The Mariners are expecting a crowd in excess of 35,000.
Backup catcher Jesus Sucre, recalled Tuesday from Tacoma, is expected to start today’s game. … Left-fielder Dustin Ackley returned to the lineup Friday after not starting the two previous games. … The Mariners entered the weekend with a 0.97 ERA (seven earned runs in 65 innings) over 18 games since June 20.
It was one year ago today — July 12, 2013 — that Raul Ibanez became the oldest player in Mariners’ history to have a multi-homer game when he accomplished the feat in an 8-3 victory over the Angels at Safeco Field. Ibanez was 41 years and 40 days old. It was the 19th multi-homer game of his career and boosted his club-leading total to 24 homers. The Mariners also got homers that day from Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales.