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Lueke's Best Friend

Tom Wilhelmsen
The Mariners have whittled their roster down to the final 25 players that will suit up in Oakland. They include a few surprises, and a handful of nice stories.

The bullpen is settled (for now), and it includes two rookies, Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen. Both will presumably make their Major League debuts on the opening road trip. I mention that because I have a soft spot for debuts, and think they are awesome when you get a chance to see them.

I have written about Lueke before on this blog, and the difficult situation the Mariners put themselves in when they acquired him. I became particularly irked over the off-season, when the M's seemed to publicly ignore Josh, while also treating him on the field as a fast-moving prospect. The organization could not keep up that charade forever.

Now, the M's have played their hand. Josh Lueke is in the majors, and he will officially go down in the record books as a Seattle Mariner in a matter of days. They cannot conveniently overlook him at this point.

Perhaps they won't have to.

Wilhelmsen has a story straight out of a movie. He's tall. He throws hard. He has a breaking ball. He looks the part of a successful big league pitcher, but walked away from it all for years. I won't say much more, because I'm sure his story will get plastered all over in the coming days. It is a remarkable story, and hopefully a nice find for the M's on the field.

As a beat writer, which story do you cover more, Wilhelmsen's or Lueke's? I honestly do not know. Mostly likely, I would gravitate towards Tom, but I tend to prefer optimism. Both stories deserve to be covered though.

On some level, it doesn't matter which story ends up being dominant. Just the presence of another story in the bullpen is a great stroke of fortune for Josh Lueke. Wilhelmsen will take away some of the attention that Lueke would have received, if not a lion's share of it. Lueke might get a chance to just be a young relief pitcher, not someone seen through the lens of a troubled past. That was hard to imagine when the M's acquired him, and it sure seems publicly like the M's have been scared of how the media would react to him in the majors.

For the record, as a quick aside, I am not promoting a conspiracy theory here. Both Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen earned their roster spots. They were among the 12 best pitchers in camp. I highly doubt Eric Wedge or Jack Zduriencik took any time thinking about how to mitigate media story's around Josh Lueke's debut. I could see the Mariners hoping that both of them would make the team, but nobody can question that they both deserve their spots.

Still, the situation is as convenient as it could get. While I don't have a good idea how things will play out with Lueke, I am dead certain however they do will be as smooth as was possible. How big of a story do you think Lueke's debut will be?