Franklin Gutierrez feels normal. That’s something he hadn’t experienced this season.
There’s no nagging pain in his hips, legs or ankles. He’s healthy. And that’s a good thing for him and the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners activated Gutierrez from the 60-day disabled list Saturday, and he started in center field and batted sixth against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Mariners placed utilityman Michael Morse on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 21. Morse is eligible to come off July 6.
To make room on the 40-man roster, Seattle designated outfielder Eric Thames for assignment.
Gutierrez took batting practice and was all smiles in the clubhouse.
“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I’ve been having a long rehab. I’ve had some issues with my legs. It hasn’t been easy for me. I’m feeling much better. I’m feeling more normal now. That’s the only thing that matters right now. I’m going to try to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Gutierrez went on the disabled list because of a strained hamstring April 23, but discomfort in his hips, knees and legs has been a season-long issue.
Recently, doctors figured out that Gutierrez has a genetic disorder that causes inflammation and arthritic pain.
“I started taking some medicine, and it’s working now,” Gutierrez said. “It took about three or four weeks to start feeling better. I didn’t know what I had, and they didn’t know, either. They found out that it caused all these things. As soon as I started the medicine, I started feeling better and better and better.”
Gutierrez wasn’t sure of the exact name of the condition, and Mariners medical staff chose not to comment on specifics, other than it was a disorder causing joint inflammation.
“They finally figured out what was going on,” Gutierrez said. “It wasn’t their fault because they’re doing a really good job on me, doing everything I ask them to do. I guess we got to the time where they found out what it is, and I’m feeling much better. It was affecting my joints. Even my eye was getting inflammation. So many people didn’t know about this, and we didn’t need to talk about it until now.
“Obviously, I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but it’s what’s been happening. I’m feeling much better now. I’m taking the medication. It’s working.”
Gutierrez missed 54 games while on the DL. This is the third consecutive season he has missed more than 50 games.
“Obviously, it’s been frustrating because no one wants to be on the DL,” Gutierrez said. “No one wants to have an injury. I just want to help my team. I just want to be here. It’s been a tough road for me. I just want to stay positive and do whatever I can the rest of the season.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was glad to have Gutierrez back.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that we heard was that he said, ‘I feel normal for the first time in a while.’ That’s encouraging,” Wedge said. “He stole some bases down there (in Tacoma), hit for some power. It should be a boost for us to have him back.”
Wedge thinks Gutierrez could play every day if needed, but he probably won’t do that right away.
“We’re not going to push the envelope,” Wedge said. “I don’t think we can with him. We just want to keep him in a good spot, and that’s where he is right now.”
Before going on the disabled list, Gutierrez was hitting .259 (14-for-54) with four home runs and 10 RBI in 16 games.
Gutierrez’s return will allow Morse to finally go on the disabled list and fully recover from a quadriceps strain. He has been playing through it for about three weeks, appearing in 11 of the Mariners’ past 23 games.
“We pinch-hit him the other day, and when he said he felt it at home plate, that was a pretty big red flag for us,” Wedge said.
“He helped bridge the gap for us. With (Justin) Smoak being down and Guti not here and (Kendrys) Morales a little bit banged up and (Jason) Bay a little banged up, for him to suck it up and try to get through it, that was great.”
Thames was a roster casualty. He was hitting .295 with 15 doubles, seven homers and 33 RBI in 57 games for the Triple-A Rainiers. He is on the minor league disabled list because of a wrist injury.
The Mariners wrap up the three-game series with Oakland with 1:10 p.m. game Sunday. Seattle is likely to start right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (1-1, 3.28 ERA), while Oakland will go with right-hander Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.30). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners