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Tom Wilhelmsen, demoted as Mariners closer after a binge of blown saves, is close to regaining the job, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday.

Wilhelmsen has had three straight clean outings, working 22
3 innings in that span without giving up a hit or walk while striking out four. He allowed one hit in one inning Tuesday. Wedge said he’ll probably remain in a setup role for a while.

“We’ll probably give him another outing or two, but he’s been much more consistent, much more like his old self,” Wedge said.


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Dustin Ackley returned to the Mariners lineup, going 1 for 5 with a double, after missing Sunday’s game with a sprained left thumb. Michael Saunders, however, remains sidelined with a finger injury.

“It feels good,” Ackley said. “I went and hit in the cage. I think if it was hindering my performance, they would have probably shut me down, but it felt fine. Those two days off, the Sunday and Monday, were huge to rest it and get the swelling down and get the soreness out. It’s still a little sore, but it feels fine enough to play.”

Saunders, who hit and threw Tuesday, said he’s getting close to being ready.

Michael Morse, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, is on the trip. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, the first game against Cincinnati.

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