ANAHEIM -- Willie Bloomquist returned to the Mariners lineup for the first time since 2008 on Wednesday, getting the start at third base in place of Kyle Seager as Seattle closed out its season-opening three-game series with the Angels.
Bloomquist, 36, signed a two-year deal in the offseason to serve as a utility player and didn't play in the first two games. But manager Lloyd McClendon believes in keeping all his players sharp as they come out of Spring Training and went with the veteran right-handed hitter against Angels lefty Hector Santiago.
"He's the last one to play for us," McClendon said. "We'd like to get him in there and give him a start. It gives Seager a break against these lefties a little bit. Get him freshened up and ready for Oakland."
Seager isn't used to getting time off. He played a team-high 160 games last year and 155 in 2012. His stretch of 106 consecutive starts from May 24 to Sept. 19 last year was the longest streak in club history for a third baseman.
But Seager is still looking for his swing this spring, having hit .191 in Cactus League play and going 1-for-7 in the first two games, including an uncharacteristic three-strikeout performance in an 0-for-4 outing Tuesday.
Bloomquist began his career with the Mariners from 2002-08, then played with the Royals, Reds and D-backs before returning to Seattle as a free agent. A career .271 hitter, he batted .302 and .317 for Arizona the past two seasons in 128 games.
Beimel records out without throwing a pitch
ANAHEIM -- When Joe Beimel stepped on the mound for the Mariners in the eighth inning Tuesday, the veteran left-hander hadn't thrown a pitch in a Major League game since Aug. 11, 2011, when he closed out an 8-1 loss for the Pirates against the Brewers.
And when Beimel walked off the mound moments later, he still hadn't thrown a Major League pitch in a 951-day span. Yet, he recorded an out and got the Mariners out of a jam while preserving a 6-3 lead.
How to get an out without throwing a pitch isn't a riddle or a trick question, but merely the result of a tricky pickoff maneuver by the 36-year-old southpaw. Called in to face lefty-swinging Raul Ibanez, Beimel instead threw over to first and nailed Angels third baseman David Freese with a sudden maneuver that left the Angel Stadium crowd stunned and helped preserve the Mariners' second straight victory over their American League West rivals.
Beimel had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and spent last year in the Braves' Minor League system. He earned a roster spot this spring from new Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon, who was his manager from 2001-03 when Beimel first came up with the Pirates.
Beimel, who was a key member of the Dodgers and Rockies bullpens from 2006-10, was taking a ribbing from teammates as he stood in the Mariners clubhouse Tuesday after his ultra-efficient outing.
"You better ice that arm," catcher John Buck yelled over.
"He gets outs without throwing pitches," said fellow reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. "That's how good he is."
"I told him if he really wants to impress me, do it again," McClendon said.
Beimel was enjoying it all, happy just to be back in the game.
"I have no problems with getting the best result out of the least amount of work possible," he said. "I think I was out just long enough for them to forget I have a pretty good move to first. I'll take it. It's one of those things where I can't teach myself to throw 95, but I am left-handed and there's really no excuse for me not to have a good pickoff move. That's something you can work at. I've used it over the years."
Beimel was in fact icing his arm afterward, having gotten up twice in the bullpen and throwing enough warmup pitches to warrant a day's work, even if his actual game time was all of about two seconds.
He said the call to throw over on the first pitch actually came from the bench, where McClendon and the Mariners staff are well aware of his excellent move, which nailed a runner in one of his Spring Training appearances as well.
"I probably would have thrown over anyway," he said. "If there's a chance you can get somebody out and not throw a pitch, why not? I'm sure I'm going to face Raul a few times this year, so the less pitches I have to show him, the better."
Getting an out without throwing a pitch figures to make Beimel the answer to a trivia question somewhere, and he'll take that as well.
"Sweet. That's always good," he said. "Or usually it's good anyway."
In this case, it was perfect.
Wilhelmsen regaining stride in setup role
ANAHEIM -- Tom Wilhelmsen isn't the Mariners closer anymore, but he figures to be a critical component again in Seattle's bullpen. Manager Lloyd McClendon used the big right-hander as his late-inning setup man in the team's first two games.
Wilhelmsen recorded four straight outs in the Opening Day win, inducing a flyout from Albert Pujols with two runners on to end the seventh and then zipping through Josh Hamilton, David Freese and Raul Ibanez.
Things didn't go quite as smoothly Tuesday, though he froze Mike Trout with a nasty third-strike curveball leading off the eighth, drawing an open-mouthed "wow" from the Angels star as he stared out at the mound.
"Froze me, too," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "That was a pretty good pitch."
Pujols then drove an 0-2 pitch down the left-field line for a double, and Wilhelmsen walked Hamilton and threw a pair of balls low to Freese before McClendon headed to the mound for a quick conversation. Wilhelmsen relaxed and got Freese to ground to short for what could have been an inning-ending double play, but second baseman Robinson Cano threw wide of first for an error as Pujols scored an unearned run.
"[Wilhelmsen] was being careful," McClendon said, "and I just went out there and reminded him, 'Look, you don't have to be careful with this guy. Your stuff is good. I'll take your stuff anytime. Pound the zone, get your ground ball,' and he did. Unfortunately we didn't turn the double play, but I thought it was a great outing by him. I thought it was a big outing. He really kept things where we wanted it to be and gave us a chance to match up."
Joe Beimel replaced Wilhelmsen at that point and picked off Freese to end the inning, and the Mariners tacked on a pair of runs in the ninth for an 8-3 win. For Wilhelmsen, it's good to be back in the thick of things after losing his job in the second half last year and spending time in Tacoma seeking answers.
"The confidence is there," Wilhelmsen said. "It's nice to be in those situations and come out on top. It's definitely good to keep the momentum going. I wasn't as sharp [Tuesday] as I wanted to be, but minimum damage and I made pitches when I really needed to. So that's something to look at, and we'll take it from there."
• Outfielder Xavier Avery, who was designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers on Wednesday and has been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. Left-handed reliever Bobby LaFromboise was claimed by the Padres and was assigned to their Triple-A club. Shortstop Carlos Triunfel, the other player DFA'd to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, was claimed by the Dodgers and also assigned to Triple-A.
• Top prospect Taijuan Walker has reported to Class A High Desert on a Minor League rehab assignment as he works his way back from a sore shoulder this spring. The right-hander will start Friday against Inland Empire.
Right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor, who underwent surgery to repair his latissimus dorsi muscle last August, has reported to Double-A Jackson for a rehab assignment.
All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma hasn't begun a rehab assignment yet. He remains with the Mariners and is working out and playing flat-ground catch every day. Iwakuma is expected to begin throwing off a mound in about a week after missing all spring with a sprained tendon in his right middle finger.
• Shortstop Brad Miller recorded his fourth multi-homer game Tuesday in just his 78th career game. Since 1916, only two other players have had that many multi-homer games in their first 80 games: Bob Horner of the Braves in 1978 and Jason Bay of the Pirates in 2003-04. Mark McGwire holds the record through the first 162 games of a career with seven.