PEORIA, Ariz. – Not a lot of people gave Tom Wilhelmsen a chance to make the Seattle Mariners’ major league roster when spring training began more than six weeks ago.
And that includes Tom Wilhelmsen.
“Maybe a 2 percent chance of it,” the 27-year-old relief pitcher said Tuesday. “I was thinking because of my lack of experience I would be headed to Double-A. I was hoping I might be able to get a callup at some point this year, definitely not at the beginning.”
After a spring training camp when he was one of the Mariners’ better relievers, Wilhelmsen overshot Double-A by a big margin. Pitching coach Carl Willis and manager Eric Wedge told him Tuesday that he will make the team.
“We put him in about as many situations as you can and he’s handled them all very well,” Wedge said. “He has a good arm, he’s a big guy and his secondary stuff is very good. He’s pitched his way onto this ballclub. He was probably a long shot early on, but what people need to recognize is that anything is possible and he’s earned a spot on this club.”
Teams are required to set their roster by 9 a.m. Thursday, although Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said all that remains are procedural issues. Besides Wilhelmsen, the Mariners also told rookie reliever Josh Lueke and left-handed reliever Aaron Laffey that they had made the team.
Wilhelmsen has never pitched above the Class A level.
Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez worked out with the team and felt good, but Zduriencik said he won’t be ready for opening day because he has missed too much playing time the past 10 days because of stomach problems. … The M’s will start the season with non-roster invitee Luis Rodriguez as a backup infielder. They cleared room on the 40- man roster by outrighting left- handed pitcher Cesar Jimenez to Triple-A Tacoma. … Seattle’s 7-2 win over Colorado gave them a 16-12-2 Cactus League record, their first winning record since 2004. Miguel Olivo caught nine innings and appears ready for opening night after suffering a strained left groin on March 5. Jack Cust hit a two-run home run and prospect Rich Poythress went 2 for 2 with a double.