TORONTO – The update on ailing center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was a good-news, bad-news report, and the bottom line was there is no way to know when he’ll return to the Seattle Mariners.
The partially torn pectoral muscle suffered in spring training has healed well and Gutierrez is throwing without pain.
The problem? He’s developed plantar fasciitis in a heel and has been hobbled by the condition, which is extremely painful and can be difficult to get past.
“He’s been dealing with it the last three or four days,” manager Eric Wedge said. “I’ve never had it but know lots of guys who have. I don’t think we know what to expect, time-wise.”
Reliever Steve Delabar has become a seventh-inning staple for the Mariners bullpen, a man with a 97-mph fastball, solid change-up and developing slider.
His 2012 didn’t start particularly well.
“Four of the first five hits I allowed were home runs,” Delabar said, shaking his head.
The problem wasn’t that he’d lost his stuff. So what was it?
“I was falling behind, getting into hitters’ counts – and that produced some big swings,” Delabar said. “I wasn’t that worried, because I knew what I’d done wrong. I just had to get back to throwing strike one with the first pitch.”
The home runs?
“I challenge hitters, and a couple of times left pitches up,” Delabar said. “But falling behind let guys key in on a location. I missed with a couple of sliders, but I’ve worked on that and now they’re not flat.
“That was frustrating, getting beat with my third-best pitch. If you’re ahead in the count, it’s completely different.”
How did he keep his head during that early stretch?
“The guys were great, but I always remember something my father told me: You’re only as good as your next game,” Delabar said. “If you’re going good, that’s just as true as when you’re going bad.”
In his past 2 innings, he hasn’t allowed a run.
Chone Figgins, who had three hits Thursday, wasn’t in the lineup. What’s up with that? “It’s a tough matchup for Chone against Rickey Romero,” Wedge said. “We wanted to give Dustin Ackley another look up top.” Figgins was 0-for-8 in his career against Romero. Ackley? He’d never faced the Toronto lefty. ... After hitting .161 over his first 12 games of the season, Michael Saunders hit .333 in his next five. ...Ichiro Suzuki has four doubles this season and 284 in his Seattle career. Counting his numbers in Japan, Ichiro now has 495 career two-base hits. ... Expect infielder Kyle Seager back at third base today after a few days off. And if Alex Liddi keeps hitting, don’t be surprised to find Seager at third and Liddi in left field sometime soon. ... Seattle plays its next six games on artificial turf in Toronto and Tampa, and already went 1-1 on the stuff in Japan. The last season the Mariners had a winning season on artificial turf was 2003.
Seattle plays in Toronto, a 1:07 p.m (PDT) game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Kevin Millwood (0-1, 7.04) vs. ex-Mariner Brandon Morrow (1-1, 3.71).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners Twitter: @LarryLaRue