PEORIA, Ariz. – Gold Glove center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, finally over his battle with an irritable bowel and strained oblique muscle, walked off the field Tuesday after making a throw from the outfield.
“We’re waiting on the MRI,” Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge said late in the afternoon. “He felt something in the pectoral region. It’s just one of those things.
“He’d warmed up, made a couple of throws. He’d been looking good all camp.”
Gutierrez, 29, came to camp two weeks ago having gained 25 pounds from the 176 pounds he’d weighed late in 2011, when an 18-month bout with that bowel had cost him games, pounds and strength.
Limited to 92 games last year, Gutierrez talked of his regained health and the season ahead.
“If I’m healthy, I think I can do what I did in 2009,” Gutierrez said.
That was the year he won a Gold Glove and batted .283 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI.
Wedge acknowledged he considered Gutierrez an option at leadoff should Chone Figgins struggle. Now, the club waits to see if Gutierrez is seriously injured.
Hisashi Iwakuma was scheduled to pitch two innings in the Mariners’ third intrasquad game, but didn’t get an out in his second inning.
Instead, he faced six teammates, all of whom reached base.
After giving up three hits, two walks and three runs, Iwakuma had the bases loaded with no one out when the inning was called because of the pitch count.
“He was aggressive in the first inning, then got away from that in the second inning,” Wedge said. “He started picking a little, worked behind hitters and got hit a bit.”
The Japanese free agent’s first spring appearance required 38 pitches – 19 strikes and 19 balls.
Left-handed specialist George Sherrill hasn’t pitched in an intrasquad game and won’t, not that it bothers him.
Held back the first week of camp by coaches who wanted to bring his arm along slowly, Sherrill on Tuesday threw his first live batting practice to teammates.
“I’m a couple of steps behind everyone else,” Sherrill said. “But my arm feels great. I’ve thrown bullpen sessions, now a batting practice.”
The Mariners say Sherrill’s role will be late-inning lefty-on-lefty work, where he may be called in to face one, perhaps two batters. That doesn’t require that he work inning after inning early in camp.
“George is right where we want him to be,” pitching coach Carl Willis said.
Wedge said Sherrill is the kind of pitcher who can be over-used during the regular season – asked to warm up in games where he doesn’t appear.
“If he pitched in 50 games, he may have warmed up in 100 of them,” Wedge said. “You want to save as much wear on that arm as you can. We’ll have him ready for the season, but we’re not about to over-work him in camp.”
Sherrill isn’t concerned with the pace.
“I’m throwing, I’m building up arm strength, I’m throwing to hitters,” he said. “I don’t need games to do any of that.”
Felix Hernandez will throw two simulated innings Thursday – an off-day for the team – then pitch every fifth day until he opens the season March 28 in Tokyo. The plan is to have Felix throw 90 pitches in his final Arizona start. … Ken Griffey Jr. arrived in camp Tuesday, and Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson will be in later this spring. … Brendan Ryan threw freely from shortstop while taking infield. … Playing with various combinations, the Mariners played Kyle Seager at first base Tuesday and Chone Figgins at shortstop. … Relievers Hong-Chih Kuo, Sean Henn, Shawn Camp, Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman, Chance Ruffin and Lucas Luetge each worked shutout innings. … Jason Vargas pitched three innings and has now thrown five innings this spring, allowing one run. … Vinnie Catricala hit his second home run in three games. Michael Saunders hit his first, adding a triple.
Today’s intrasquad game begins at 11:45 a.m. (PST), and the starting pitchers are James Paxton vs. Taijuan Walker.