Onetime bartender Tom Wilhelmsen seems to pretty well have a key late-inning spot in the Seattle Mariners bullpen, as we explained in yesterday's Independent Baseball Insider, but the onetime Golden League hurler (Tucson, AZ) also had one of those freak incidents in a recent Cactus League exhibition that he will probably talk about for the rest of his career.
Wilhelmsen's fastball and curve have been so good that the last I looked the right-hander had held hitters to a combined .154 batting average. He got so excited about one recent strikeout on a curveball against the Chicago Cubs that he wound up with a rare strikeout/pitcher error on the same play.
It seems the ball bounced in the dirt on the strikeout, then ricocheted back toward the mound where Wilhelmsen picked it up and threw wildly to first base.
"I was so excited about the curveball working and probably could have planted my feet better before I threw," he told The Seattle Times.
GUITAR-PLAYING SINGER WINS DODGERS' 'IDOL' COMPETITION
While three-time Atlantic League lefty Scott Rice continues to hope this is the year he breaks into the major leagues, the 30-year-old out of Simi Valley, CA has already claimed one honor in the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training camp.
The Dodgers routinely hold a "Dodgers (American) Idol" competition, a fraternity-hazing type event required for first timers in the big league camp.
Rice, a non-roster invitee after signing out of York, PA during the 2011 season, performed an original song about teammate Kenley Jansen. Guess what? The judges, including Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda, declared Rice the champion.
Rice told The Los Angeles Daily News he can't carry a tune, but the guitar he bought to pass time while playing in Lakeland, FL some time back helps. "I'm not a singer," the 6-foot-6 Rice told the newspaper. "I play the guitar really loud so I don't have to sing in tune."
Rice has made three Atlantic League stops--Long Island, NY in 2008, Newark, NJ a year later and York last summer when he went 1-0, 2.45 in 15 appearances for the eventual champion Revolution. Now in his 14th professional season and after overcoming flexor tendon surgery, the southpaw is hoping to continue winning accolades, this time in a major league uniform.
He is off to a solid start, allowing only one hit and striking out four (no walks) in three scoreless innings spread over the same number of appearances.
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