Dating back to his days with the San Francisco Giants, reliever Brian Wilson has never been one to shy away from the spotlight. Wilson’s facial hair has taken on a persona of its own and he wasn’t afraid to sign with a former rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, last season coming off Tommy John surgery. The once hated pitcher quickly endeared himself to Dodger fans with one impressive performance after another.
Wilson was then a free agent and ultimately decided to sign a one-year, $10 million contract with the Dodgers in the off-season. On Tuesday, the 31-year-old right hander was at the center of attention once more as he stepped in for the injured Zack Greinke to start in the Dodgers’ seventh Spring Training game. Wilson would only pitch one inning, turning in another no-hit effort, but it was his first pitch that had everyone buzzing.
Seattle Mariners shortstop Brad Millers stepped in the batters box and Wilson promptly greeted him with a knuckleball, which was called for a strike. Following the game, Wilson spoke with Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com and downplayed the pitch:
Wilson shrugged off the question about the knuckleball he threw to Seattle’s Brad Miller — “A strike-one pitch, I don’t know what it was”
While the surprising knuckleball was understandably a talking point, Wilson revealed important information to Gurnick regarding his health:
Wilson said he’s not only ready now for the season to start, “I’m ready when I come into camp, that’s the way I play. I don’t know how to pitch at 75 percent. Right now I’m 100 percent.”
Wilson’s ability to remain healthy will be instrumental in how well the back end of the Dodgers bullpen performs. The trio of Kenley Jansen, Chris Perez and Wilson gives manager Don Mattingly a group of relievers who all have experience as a closer. Should one falter, another would be waiting in the wings. Assuming Jansen is able to keep hold of the closer’s spot, Wilson will continue with the role he perfected in 2013 — setup man extraordinaire — while being paid like a closer.
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