MIAMI (AP) — Former All-Star closer Brian Wilson acknowledged feeling butterflies in the bullpen as he warmed up Thursday, which was understandable since he hadn't pitched in 16 months.
Once on the mound, he took a deep breath and was ready to go.
"I only have a brief moment out there, and I can either crumble or rise to the occasion," he said. "I can tell you crumbling isn't something I'd like to do."
Instead, Wilson took the biggest step yet in his comeback from Tommy John surgery, pitching a scoreless ninth inning to seal the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-0 victory over the Miami Marlins.
Wilson gave up a two-out double, struck out two and looked a lot like the pitcher who saved 171 games for the Dodgers' rivals, the San Francisco Giants.
"It felt normal," the bearded right-hander said. "It was long overdue, a very arduous process, but I'm glad I went through it so I could appreciate baseball even more. I felt comfortable. I felt like I hadn't skipped a beat."
Wilson threw 19 pitches, 11 for strikes, and reached 94 mph on the scoreboard radar gun.
"Pretty impressive," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He comes out throwing strikes. His stuff seemed sharp. It was good."
The game was Wilson's first since April 12, 2012, with the Giants. He underwent reconstructive elbow surgery later that month, and the Dodgers signed him after he was non-tendered by San Francisco last winter.
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