San Diego – After two frustrating years, maybe Franklin Gutierrez has become healthy enough to be the everyday center fielder the Mariners had envisioned when they signed him to a four-year contract extension in 2010.
Since he signed that deal, Gutierrez has rarely been healthy. There was the irritable bowel syndrome that bothered him at the end of 2010 and much of 2011. Then came the strained oblique at the end of 2011, followed by the strained pectoral in spring training of this season and the plantar fasciitis that slowed his return.
But now it appears he’s back to being the player that hit .283 with 24 doubles, 18 homers and 70 RBI with a .425 on-base percentage in 2009.
“I feel stronger, obviously,” he said. “Right now, my body feels good. That’s very important for me to keep feeling better. I’m just going day by day, trying to do the little things I can do, and just trying to play my game. That’s it.”
After going 4-for-5 with a homer Friday night, Gutierrez was back in the lineup Saturday. But manager Eric Wedge is still being cautious with Gutierrez, and will sit him today.
“I’m trying to keep him away from night-days early on,” said Wedge, referring to day games after a night game. “He’s feeling good. By all accounts, he looks good. I just felt for the first 10 days we’d try to stay ahead of it. And we always want to stay ahead of it with him with his injury history.”
Gutierrez admitted he’s still trying to get back in baseball shape.
“I think I’m getting to that point,” Gutierrez said. “We talk about it. Obviously, I’m still feeling some soreness and all that kind of stuff. But I’m getting to the point I’m feeling better with my legs, and that’s the most important thing for me. As soon as I feel ready with my legs, I’m going to be ready to play every day.”
Basically, he’s going through spring training now.
Gutierrez has made an effort to get his legs in shape and keep them healthy.
“I’m trying to do my weights, my workout, do some contrasting, hot tub, cold tub, massage, and a lot of stretching,” he said. “I know it’s important. If I feel good with my legs, I’m going to be ready.”
The return of outfielder Mike Carp and reliever Stephen Pryor from the disabled list won’t happen soon.
Wedge said Carp, who is battling a sore right shoulder, has been relegated to rehab work with the training staff.
“Our plan is to re-evaluate him on Monday when we get back, and hopefully he can begin some baseball activity this week,” Wedge said.
If that happens, Carp will start with hitting, then resume throwing.
Wedge said Pryor, who suffered a severe groin strain, is a “little further away” than Carp.
“Hopefully, we can use that homestand to see how far he can come along,” Wedge said. “We’d like to see him possibly go out and do something before we head out on the road (July 6).”
Wedge didn’t think either player would need to have full 20-day rehab stints once they are cleared to play.
“I think its important for both to go out for at least a little while to knock the rust off,” Wedge said.
The Mariners wrap up the series in San Diego with a 1:05 p.m. game today on Root Sports, with right-hander Hector Noesi (2-8, 5.69 ERA) starting against Padres right-hander Edinson Volquez (3-7, 4.11).email@example.com 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish