A familiar face was in the Mariners clubhouse on Tuesday and dressed in full uniform.
Oft-injured center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has yet to play this season, dressed out and took pregame batting practice with the team.
Gutierrez has been in Seattle for the past few weeks, getting treatment on his injured heel, but the next few days represent a huge step for him. Besides taking batting practice, the bigger test will come today, when Gutierrez tries running and light agility drills for the first time since getting hurt.
“(Wednesday) is going to be first day moving around and seeing how my foot feels,” he said. “Right now, it feels pretty good. Let’s see when I start running.”
If all goes well in the coming days, Gutierrez will likely head to Arizona to get some game action in extended spring training games. Because an injury rehabilitation assignment is only 20 days, and he has been out since spring training, the Mariners want to use the extended spring games to get him extra at-bats.
What does Mariners manager Eric Wedge need to see from Gutierrez in the next few days?
“He just needs to stay healthy, nothing more, nothing less,” Wedge said. “It’s been all about the heel the last two or three weeks. He’s been throwing fine. He’s been hitting fine. So it’s just about him being able to move around and the heel not giving him any problems.”
The heel issues popped up as Gutierrez recovered from a partially torn pectoral muscle he suffered during spring training. The injury wasn’t the result of one specific incident but was a gradual building. Just days before he was ready to report to a rehab assignment, he was shut down because of the pain in the heel.
“I was doing some exercises down in Arizona and felt something there,” he said. “But I didn’t pay much attention to it. We play through soreness. I just kept doing it and doing it and it got worse. And I had to stop.”
It was another setback in what has been two seasons’ worth for the talented outfielder, who has battled intestinal issues and other minor injuries.
“Obviously it was frustrating,” he said. “Could you imagine having two years without being healthy at all? I just want to play. I’ve been out so many days.”
Gutierrez played in 92 games last season, but battled irritable bowel syndrome most of the season before being shut down. He had lost close to 35 pounds.
OLIVO ON TRACK TO JOIN M’S ON WEEKEND
Speaking of rehab assignments, catcher Miguel Olivo wrapped up day two of what appears to be a brief rehab assignment with the Tacoma Rainiers in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Olivo played the whole game at designated hitter, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in an 18-8 loss to the Iowa Cubs.
Olivo will catch nine innings today and then possibly DH in Thursday’s day game to get a few more at-bats. Wedge expects him to rejoin the team this weekend.
Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik will have to make a corresponding roster move to make room for Olivo. However, Wedge didn’t want to speculate on what that move would be, saying “we have an idea what we are going to do, but things can change.”
It seems likely that either Liddi or Wells would be optioned to Triple- A Tacoma.
The Rangers and Mariners play at 12:40 p.m. today. Texas will start Scott Feldman (0-1, 3.00 ERA) against Kevin Millwood (2-4, 4.17).firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish