7/10/2014 2:44 A.M. ET
Wilhelmsen to get spot start in all-bullpen finale
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen will make his first Major League start Thursday against the Twins as manager Lloyd McClendon goes to an all-bullpen day in the series finale of the four-game series.
The Mariners recalled right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor from Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday and optioned starter Taijuan Walker to Tacoma to set up their pitching prior to the All-Star break.
Pryor's addition provides extra support in a bullpen that already was carrying an extra arm, while Walker will now be able to start twice in Tacoma, beginning Saturday against Fresno, to stay sharp over next week's All-Star break and then rejoin the club to face the Mets on July 22.
McClendon had already said that Felix Hernandez has been pushed back a day to start Friday's series opener against the A's. Walker had tentatively been projected to start Saturday, but his departure sets up Hisashi Iwakuma to start that day on normal rest and Chris Young to do the same on Sunday.
The risky part of that equation would be going with all relievers in Thursday's series finale with the Twins, but Wilhelmsen has been outstanding in longer relief stints of late and has twice pitched three innings. McClendon said he's tinkered with the notion of Wilhelmsen working into a starting role.
"He's been impressive in the long role," McClendon said. "It's certainly intriguing, something that's been on my mind. We'll see. He's a power arm, he's got three to four quality pitches and he's thrived in that long role. He seems to cherish it a little bit. It's kind of interesting."
McClendon said he's looking at three or four innings maximum out of Wilhelmsen in Thursday's spot start and the big right-hander said he's happy to give it a shot.
"We had talked about it a few days ago," said Wilhelmsen, who was Seattle's closer parts of the past two years and has put up a 2.49 ERA in 47 innings in 33 appearances this year. "We knew it was going to be a bullpen start and I said I was up for it if he needed me to fill in. I'm excited to get the opportunity and say I started a Major League game."
The Mariners sent Wilhelmsen to Double-A Jackson to get some starts midway through his rookie season in 2011, but ended that experiment after he went 4-5 with a 5.49 ERA. But he said he's started plenty of games while growing up and understands the routine.
"I think most of the guys in the bullpen were starters at some point," he said. "It's not like I'm playing football. Maybe it's a little different mindset, but I'm not going to try to look at it that way."
Pryor called up and sent back down on same day
SEATTLE -- The Mariners optioned reliever Stephen Pryor back to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled left-hander Lucas Luetge on Wednesday after Seattle dropped an 8-1 decision to the Twins at Safeco Field.
Making his first big league appearance of the season Wednesday night after being recalled earlier in the day, Pryor allowed one run on one hit and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. He threw 17 of 35 pitches for strikes.
"His outing had nothing to do with it," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We were going to do it anyway."
The Mariners are recalling Luetge so they'll have an extra pitcher available for Thursday when they have an "all-bullpen" day. Luetge allowed two runs over 2 1/3 innings in three appearances with Seattle this season before getting demoted to Tacoma. In 26 games with the Rainiers, he is 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA.
Pryor's roster spot was created when young right-hander Taijuan Walker was down to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday so he could continue pitching over the break.
Pryor, 24, is 2-1 with one save and a 4.91 ERA in 21 games for Tacoma after spending most of last season on the disabled list following surgery to repair a torn lat muscle.
Pryor appeared in 33 games with the Mariners from 2012-13 with a 2.97 ERA in 30 1/3 innings while averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He worked 7 1/3 scoreless innings over seven relief outings to start the 2013 season before spending the rest of the year on the DL.
"His velocity is coming back, he's a power arm and he's throwing good," McClendon said before Wednesday's game. "He's on the roster and we need a pitcher. So it made sense."
The Mariners were already carrying an extra reliever while going with one less position player since designating outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment and keeping Brandon Maurer in the bullpen.
Maurer, who likely will be called on for extensive duty in Thursday's bullpen day, welcomes the company.
"We've got nine guys down there," said the 23-year-old said before Wednesday's game. "We have arms. I might end up on the floor tonight, but oh well. I don't mind."
• McClendon said Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez would start the first two games in Anaheim after the All-Star break, in that order, which gives Hernandez three days after his expected All-Star appearance before his next outing.
• By moving Iwakuma's start this weekend to Saturday, the Japanese standout now coincidentally will be starting on his bobblehead day, with the first 20,000 fans to receive the Iwakuma replicas.
Specially priced tickets for the game are available at Mariners.com/Japan. Tickets are $14 for View Level (normally $20), $30 for Main Level (normally $40) and $35 for Club Level (normally $50).
A portion of each ticket sold through this special offer will benefit Peace Winds America, a non-profit disaster preparedness and response organization headquartered in Seattle that is continuing to help with the recovery efforts in Japan from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit particularly hard in the Miyagi Prefecture, where Iwakuma grew up.