Wilhelmsen takes another step in rehab process

WilhelmsenChangeMariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen played catch up to about 120 feet on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington as he took another step toward returning from a hyperextended right elbow that has sidelined him the past two and a half weeks.

Wilhelmsen is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list as soon as he’s fully recovered, with a mid-May return likely if all goes as expected. The 31-year-old right-hander threw for about 25 minutes in the outfield prior to Seattle’s game with the Rangers and will have a similar session on Thursday before he’s scheduled to take to the mound in Houston on Friday for a bullpen session.

If all goes well this week, Wilhelmsen could throw another bullpen or a simulated game early next week in Anaheim before being sent out an a Minor League rehab assignment about the time the Mariners return home at the end of their current 10-game road trip.

Wilhelmsen said his arm felt great on Tuesday and the hard part now is sticking with the rehab program set up by the team’s training staff.

“I’m ready to go,” Wilhelmsen said. “I’m pretty eager. Once everything is feeling good, you want to get right back into it.”

Wilhelmsen made just two appearances this season, allowing two runs and five hits in 2 2/3 innings, before injuring his arm when he got accidentally twisted backward by teammate Danny Farquhar as Farquhar ran by while he was stretching in the bullpen in Oakland on April 11.

Wilhelmsen was a critical part of last year’s bullpen success as he posted a 2.27 ERA in 79 1/3 innings over 57 appearances.

• While Nelson Cruz hit .382 with nine homers and 19 RBIs in his first 14 games in right field compared to .100 with no homers and two RBIs in his initial five games at designated hitter, manager Lloyd McClendon said that hasn’t played into his decision to use the 34-year-old more in the outfield than many expected so far.

“When I think he needs a day for his legs, I give it to him,” said McClendon, who had Cruz at DH in Tuesday’s game. “If not, I’m going to play him in the outfield. I reassess it every day. I have to make sure I keep him healthy. I have to be smart about it.”

• Broadcasters Aaron Goldsmith and Dave Sims are flipping roles for the Rangers and upcoming Astros series, with Goldsmith moving into the TV booth alongside Mike Blowers and Sims taking radio duties alongside Rick Rizzs. The Mariners will use that alignment at various times this year as a change of pace.

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