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Wilhelmsen feeling 'loads better'

Most recent MRI shows no structural damage in reliever's elbow

SEATTLE -- Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen hasn't been cleared to begin throwing and likely won't be ready to return when he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, but he should know more after seeing the doctor again on Tuesday.

Wilhelmsen has been sidelined with a hyperextended right elbow since April 11. An MRI performed last week showed no structural damage; he has been waiting for the dye from the test to clear out and for the pain to entirely dissipate before resuming throwing.

"I'm feeling loads better," Wilhelmsen said on Monday while icing the elbow. "All the fluid from the MRI is finally out of my arm. I was expecting to throw about a week after it happened, but they put the ink in there, and that lingers. Today is the first day where I haven't had any aches or anything due to it."

MRIs are more accurate when the dye is used, though it slows the recovery process slightly. But Wilhelmsen is glad the test showed no issues.

"Structurally, everything is strong and secure, and I'm good to go," he said. "The plan now is to throw maybe Friday."

Wilhelmsen, 31, was a workhorse for the bullpen in 2014, when he posted a 2.27 ERA over 79 1/3 innings in 57 appearances, including two spot starts. He allowed five hits and two runs in 2 2/3 innings in his first two outings this season before hurting his elbow when his arm twisted backward in a bullpen collision with fellow reliever Danny Farquhar while stretching.

Wilhelmsen has kept a positive attitude -- as well as his normal bullpen vantage point -- even while sidelined.

"It's hard not playing, but it's not hard watching us win. That's not hard at all," he said. "I have my same seat. I'm watching it all, pretending when that phone rings, it's going to be me. A good buddy of mine told me, when you know you're down for an extended period of time, keep the mental aspect alive so you can pick it right back up. So that's what I'm trying to do."

As for walking around with a bag of ice on his arm? Wilhelmsen is in his element there as well. After all, this is a guy who worked as a bartender in Arizona when he was out of baseball from 2004 to 2008.

"When I was playing Independent ball [in 2009] and tweaked a nerve, I couldn't extend my elbow," he said. "But I still had to work the bar. So I can pour a drink with one arm. I can't throw with my left, but I can mix a drink."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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