Franklin Gutierrez wandered into the Mariners clubhouse shortly after 4 p.m. carrying his bag of gear. He looked like a different person than a few weeks ago. He looked healthy and his face wasn't quite as gaunt. Gutierrez didn't get dressed out. He instead met with the Mariners medical staff, including trainer Rick Griffin.
"I had a good talk with him and Rick’s going to look at him," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We haven’t made any decisions yet, but Jack (Zduriencik) and I are going to talk a little later."
But don't be surprised if they activated him before tomorrow's game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Wedge liked what he saw from Gutierrez when they met.
"He looked good," Wedge said. "He says he’s feeling good."
Gutierrez played a stretch of six straight games and seems healthy. He also hit pretty well on the road with the Rainiers. During his rehab stint, he's appeared in 11 games, hitting .275 (11-for-40) with two doubles, two triples and six RBI and six walks. He had nine of those hits in last six games.
"He’s had 40-50 plate appearances," Wedge said. "He’s feeling good. That repetition is what he needed. It was a natural progression. His timing continually got better as he was down there, he saw a lot of pitches. That’s why they’re down there, to get that type of repetition."
Obviously, Wedge and Zduriencik will listen to the medical staff, but they will also listen to Gutierrez's input in making their decision. I'm sure Gutierrez believes he's ready to go.
"The interaction is important," Wedge said. "You listen to coaches and listen to trainers, but you have to also listen very closely to the player."
Obviously, Gutierrez won't return to playing every day. Wedge said they will look at resting on day games after night games and probably get "a couple days off" per week.
That leaves some serious questions about who stays and who goes off the roster. There are a few different options. The Mariners could send down Mike Wilson. He hasn't played much. But he also gives you a right-handed bat off the bench. And he has played some center field with the Rainiers and in spring training. Notice I didn't say "a good center field." Wilson is capable out there, but he is far from Saunders or even Ryan Langerhans in defensive ability. Still Wedge said he felt okay with having Wilson out there for a game.
Carlos Peguero could be sent down, meaning Saunders and Wilson would platoon in left. Peguero is far from a finished product and needs to play every day or as close to that as possible. Yes, he has power. But his approach needs a little work.
"He still tries to do too much up there," Wedge said of Peguero at the plate. "He gets a little violent at times. And he needs the reps out in left field and on the basepaths – the speed of the game. Unless you’ve been up here, you have no idea how fast this game is at times. T hat’s w hy it takes a period of time for these young players to adjust when they get up here."
And the Mariners could send down Saunders. It's a move that has some merit because he is absolutely struggling at the plate right now. In his last 12 games, Michael Saunders has 46 plate appearances and he has three hits, one homer, two walks and 15 strikeouts. In 33 games this season, he's hitting .167 (19-for-114) with a .220 on-base percentage and has 33 strikeouts.
Wedge was asked about Brandon League's status and he was quick and to the point.
"He’ll be back in that closer’s role tonight," Wedge said. "Hopefully we’ll have the lead and give him the ball."
- Denard Span CF
- Matt Tolbert SS
- Jason Kubel DH
- Justin Morneau 1B
- Michael Cuddyer RF
- Danny Valencia 3B
- Ben Revere LF
- Rene Rivera C
- Alexi Casilla 2B
LHP Francisco Liriano (2-5, 7.07 ERA)
- Ichiro Suzuki RF
- Chone Figgins 3B
- Justin Smoak 1B
- Miguel Olivo C
- Jack Cust DH
- Jack Wilson 2B
- Mike Wilson LF
- Brendan Ryan SS
- Michael Saunders CF
RHP Felix Hernandez (4-3, 3.36 ERA)