Tacoma Rainiers manager Pat Listach said Franklin Gutierrez is ready to be a major leaguer again. And that’s why he was called up to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
“He had to prove to himself that he could come out and do this on a daily basis,” Listach said. “He had some bad days and some good days. Lately he’s been having more good days.
“He missed a whole year and he worked hard to get back to major-league-caliber readiness. And he’s ready.”
Gutierrez had played in 48 of the Rainiers’ 72 games entering Wednesday after missing all of last year battling debilitating gastrointestinal issues. He played 30 games in left field, 18 as the designated hitter and one in center field, though the latter is unlikely to occur again in Seattle.
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He had played in seven of the Rainiers’ past 10 games.
“The important thing about the reason they called him up is reliability,” said Listach, who said who spoke to Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon Wednesday morning about Gutierrez, as well as James Jones, who was optioned to Tacoma.
“You can’t have a guy on the roster who may or may not come back the next day and say, ‘I can’t play.’ You need to have guys who are ready every day. He’s gotten to the point where his body is reacting very good and his medications are helping him out.”
Listach said Gutierrez’s plate approach was the greatest contributor to his promotion.
“There’s nothing to make me think he’d go up there and not have the same quality at bats he had here,” Listach said.
Wednesday’s game marks the first for Justin Ruggiano as a Rainier. He was added to Tacoma’s roster on June 20 after being outrighted from Seattle. Listach said Ruggiano will DH indefinitely until his throwing elbow heals.
Ruggiano batted .214 in 36 games with the Mariners with three RBIs. He was designated for assignment on June 4. He was traded to the Mariners from the Cubs in December for minor league pitcher Matt Brazis.
“He didn’t perform as well as he would have liked to,” Listach said. “The only way to get back up there is to play your way back. So come down here, get some regular at-bats, get his timing back and get back to the guy we know he is.”