Thomas Mark Wilhelmsen (born December 16, 1983) is an American Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners.
Prior to playing professionally, Wilhelmsen graduated from Tucson High School, whence he was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round (199th overall) of the 2002 MLB Draft. Later that summer, upon signing with the Brewers on August 19, he received a US $250,000 bonus. He began his professional career the next season.
Wilhelmsen played for the AZL Brewers and Beloit Snappers in 2003, going a combined 5-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 17 starts. Following that season, he twice tested positive for marijuana and was suspended for the 2004 campaign. He decided to quit professional baseball during extended spring training after his suspension ended in 2005.
During his five-year hiatus from 2005 to 2009, he worked as a bartender at The Hut, a tiki bar in his hometown. This occupation would later be the inspiration for his nickname.
Prior to the 2010 season, Wilhelmsen attempted a comeback and signed a minor league contract with the Mariners. He played for the AZL Mariners, Everett AquaSox and Clinton LumberKings that season, going a combined 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 15 games (12 starts).
On May 17, 2011 after being signed by the Mariners he was optioned to Class AA in order to clear room for Franklin Gutierrez to be activated. After a series of trades created an opening on the Mariners' 25-man roster, Wilhelmsen was recalled from the minor leagues on August 2, 2011. He won his first major league game on August 15, pitching a perfect 8th inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.
On June 8, 2012, Wilhelmsen recorded the save in a six-pitcher combined no-hitter which was started by Kevin Millwood who left the game after the 6th inning due to a groin injury. The six pitchers used by the Mariners tied the record of most pitchers used in a no-hitter with the 2003 Houston Astros. The Mariners beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0. Wilhelmsen said after the game that while he was pitching, he had forgotten it was a no-hitter, and only remembered after catcher Jesús Montero reminded him.
Wilhelmsen was optioned to Tacoma on August 6, 2013.
By Dean Hanley
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