Wilhelmsen's unexpected homecoming - Tucson News Now

Wilhelmsen's unexpected homecoming

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The Tucson High grad ('02) was one of the dominant closer in baseball thru the first two months of the season. The Tucson High grad ('02) was one of the dominant closer in baseball thru the first two months of the season.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tom Wilhelmsen is back home in Tucson.

But to say this is where he wanted to be in August of what should have been his second full season in the major leagues, would be far from the truth.

Wilhelmsen is not in his hometown pitching for the Seattle Mariners. He's pitching for Tacoma Rainiers in his 3rd week of trying to figure it out after being demoted by the Mariners to Triple-A.

It hasn't gone well thus far. The Tucson High School grad has allowed seven earned runs in seven and two-third innings working both as a limited starter and reliever for the Tacoma Rainiers.

Wilhelmsen will take the mound Thursday in Game 2 of a five-game series with the Tucson Padres. He is expected to pitch in relief of Tacoma starter James Paxton but is on a protocol of which he does not enter in the middle of an inning.

Wilhelmsen season started glowing as he converted 12 of his first 14 save chances on his way to a 0.75 ERA for the struggling Mariners.

The turn of June though brought a downward spiral as fastball command became an issue for the 6'6 righthander.

His ERA dipped to 8.10 over his final 25 outings a stretch that included three losses, three blown saves and a final four batter implosion August 1st in Boston in which he allowed two walks and two hits in the ninth to begin the turn of a 7-2 Mariners lead into a six-run inning and an 8-7 loss to the Red Sox.

Wilhelmsen's pitched for the Tucson Toros four years ago beginning his comeback to the game he left after burning out in 2003.

His story of his days tending bar at The Hut on 4th Avenue have well been told.

The Mariners signed him during Spring Training of 2010 and he reached the big leagues the next season.

After a strong finish to the 2011 season, Wilhelmsen emerged as the team's closer in 2012, saving 29 games and posting a 2.50 ERA.

Fittingly M's TV announcer Dave Sims coined Wilhelmsen saves as "closing time".

The ex-bartender hopes to "figure it out" so he can get make to making those big league "last calls".

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