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Welcome Back, Tom Wilhelmsen

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For when you need someone to throw balls, and Dan Cortes is tired and unavailable.

The Mariners were running with a short roster for a time, and played on Monday with 24 players. Because the Mariners don't need to put themselves at a bigger disadvantage than they already face, on Tuesday they've elected to fill that 25th spot, and they've elected to fill it with Tom Wilhelmsen.

Wilhelmsen, you'll remember for being a feel-good story out of Spring Training. Just a year after getting back into professional baseball, he broke camp with the M's and worked out of their bullpen, appearing in eight games before being demoted in May. He wasn't very good, but we couldn't have expected him to be very good that quickly, and he worked sporadically in low-leverage situations anyway so it's not like he hurt the team during his stint.

He was sent to double-A Jackson to get his arm built back up for starting. I think we were all supportive of the idea. Wilhelmsen belonged in the minors, since he wasn't Major League-ready, and it's best to give a guy with good stuff an opportunity to start before shoving him into the bullpen long-term. Wilhelmsen flashed hints of a starter's repertoire, so upon his demotion, we all hoped that he'd hit the ground running with Jackson and establish himself as a legitimate pitcher.

Except he didn't do that. Here's what Wilhelmsen did over 12 starts and two relief appearances:

60.2 innings
26 walks
7 hit batters
40 strikeouts

Wilhelmsen's story is awesome, and he's by all indications a good guy, but that's a bad performance. And it's not like he's been better lately. He's allowed 12 runs in 7.2 innings in his most recent two appearances. There were three homers in the last one.

But back he's coming to Seattle anyway. It's weird, because, by performance, he hasn't earned it. Best as I can figure out, though, the team needed to add a player, and it wanted to add a player already on the 40-man roster so as to keep the count at 39. Shawn Kelley is due to return from the 60-day disabled list pretty soon. When that happens, he'll be re-added to the 40-man roster. By keeping the count at 39 now, the Mariners can re-activate Kelley without having to lose anyone.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what makes sense to me. And that means that, when Kelley's back, Wilhelmsen will probably return to the minors, unless Dan Cortes or someone looks really really bad. At least he gets to enjoy the experience again for a little while, though. I don't know what it feels like to be jerked around as a baseball player, but the Major League paychecks probably take the edge off.