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April 5, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Franklin Gutierrez could get in some minor league games by week’s end

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Franklin Gutierrez has apparently had one final test done and is working towards possibly playing a few innings in some minor league games by the end of this week. It’s still not clear when he’d be ready to rejoin the Mariners.
Gutierrez has been regaining some weight and keeping up on baseball-related exercises. But there is still concern about his overall strength and conditioning. And until manager Eric Wedge is convinced that Gutierrez “can go on a baseball field for two or three hours” the minor leagues is where he’ll stay.
Wedge said the first few games, in Arizona, won’t last more than a handful of innings.
“Just until he starts to get a few games under his belt,” Wedge said.
After that, depending on how he responds, the team would look to get him into more complete games. In other words, don’t expect to see him for at least a couple more weeks.
Tonight, it will be Michael Saunders starting in center field against Texas right-hander Alexi Ogando.
Another swap of players will see Jack Wilson move back over to his customary shortstop position, while Adam Kennedy gets his first start of the season at second base. Brendan Ryan, off to a 1-for-12 start at the plate with that costly error on Sunday, will take a seat.
Wedge said he’s been looking to get Kennedy into a game, but that the team had faced too many left-handers to be able to do that. Also, this gives him an opportunity to rest Ryan.
“It’s a little of both,” he said.
Wedge said he’s looking to rest some other players in coming days but hasn’t figured it all out yet. Adam Moore has caught Michael Pineda in Class AAA before, but tonight, it will be Miguel Olivo behind the dish for the 6-foot-7 prospect’s big-league debut.

Wedge said he wants both catchers working with Pineda and that, this way, he can give Olivo a rest tomorrow and during Thursday’s off-day for the team.
“We’ll work more off what the team needs and where Olivo and Moore are at physically,” he said of future Pineda starts.
Speaking of Pineda, Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis plan to monitor him closely and decide how long to let him go tonight.
“Carl and I have handled young pitchers before,” Wedge said of the pair, who broke in a flurry of young starters, including C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona in Cleveland. “And it’s just a feel for what you have to have for what’s going on physically, fundamentally and also emotionally.”
And if Pineda is unable to go more than five innings or so, one of the guys the team could turn to early is Jamey Wright, who didn’t allow an earned run in 12 innings pitched this spring and who retired his only regular season batter faced in Oakland on Saturday.
Wright, 36, had a 5.00 ERA in 466 major league games with 10 different teams over the years. But he made an adjustment last season in Seattle that he says has worked wonders with his curveball and sinker.
“It involves me just keeping my hands lower, that’s it,” Wright said.
Wright used to keep his hands real high, almost at eye level, when he’d come to the set positon before making a high leg kick. Now, he keeps them down near his belt buckle and it allows him to make a quicker delivery to the plate.
Wright credits former pitching coach Rick Adair, now with the Orioles, for the switch.
“He just told me ‘When you’re young, your arm will always catch up to you’,” Wright said. “But when you get a little bit older, your arm all of a sudden starts lagging behind when you’re going through your delivery.’ ”
Wright’s longtime nemesis has been an ability to consistently find the strike zone. The mechanical change, he added, has helped him better locate his heavy-moving fastball for strikes.
The lineups:
RF Ichiro
3B Chone Figgins
LF Milton Bradley
DH Jack Cust
1B Justin Smoak
C Miguel Olivo
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Jack Wilson
CF Michael Saunders
RHP Michael Pineda
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
DH Nelson Cruz
RF Mitch Moreland
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Julio Borbon
RHP Alexi Ogando

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