Wilhelmsen (back) progressing toward return

Wilhelmsen (back) progressing toward return

SEATTLE -- Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen threw 25 pitches on Tuesday in his first bullpen session since being sidelined by a lower-back issue two weeks ago and said everything felt fine as he works toward rejoining the club sometime in the next road trip if all goes well.

The 32-year-old right-hander will throw a simulated inning against live hitters on Thursday before a decision is made on his return. He will be eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Friday, which is the first day of a six-game trek to Oakland and Anaheim.

"It went well," Wilhelmsen said. "My back feels good. No setbacks today. Good extension. That's all you can ask for."

Wilhelmsen, who has posted a 3.20 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over 22 appearances since re-signing with Seattle in late June, threw a scoreless inning in his last outing on Aug. 25 against the White Sox in Chicago. But he'd sat out the previous three games because of soreness in his lower back and said that outing led to more significant issues.

"Every year something like this happens, but this has been the longest," he said. "I sat out the Yankees series, then felt pretty good the last day and then we hopped on that three-hour flight to Chicago and I want to say that's what locked it up. After pitching that day, the next morning it was pretty bad. But it's better now."

Worth noting

• All the talk of Safeco Field being a pitcher's park has certainly been challenged this season. Going into Tuesday's game, the park had yielded 199 home runs -- 99 by the Mariners -- in 68 games. That total number and average of 2.93 per game are both the highest in the Majors at this point.

Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark is second in total homers at 196 and Yankee Stadium is No. 2 in average per game at 2.85. With 13 home games remaining, Safeco has already yielded its most home runs in a season, breaking the previous mark of 180 in 2015.

• The Mariners are expected to stay in rotation after the Texas series, which means Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez and James Paxton would pitch the three games in Oakland on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

• Catcher Steve Clevenger, who has been on the 60-day DL with a broken hand since June 30, has moved to Double-A Jackson to continue his rehab and went 3-for-4 in a regular season-ending 2-1 loss to Chattanooga on Monday. Jackson now opens the Southern League playoffs Wednesday against Montgomery with Andrew Moore on the mound.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.