Happy Fourth of July everybody! Two Mariners regulars won’t be in the lineup today, but for entirely different reasons.
Miguel Olivo is still feeling the effects of that sore hamstring from six days ago, while Franklin Gutierrez is still waiting to officially launch his 2011 season at the plate.
Olivo told me he feels well enough to play, but the team is just taking advantage of Josh Bard’s strong play to give him a bit of a rest until he’s completely healed. M’s manager Eric Wedge said that should happen tomorrow, with Olivo playing out the duration of this series here against the Oakland A’s.
Gutierrez’s case is a bit longer-term. And his malaise at the plate was enough to earn him a discussion with the manager this morning prior to Greg Halman getting another start in center field.
Wedge isn’t sold on arguments that Gutierrez, hitting a paltry .183 with a .448 on-base-plus-slugging percentage going on nearly seven weeks, is still regaining his strength after that bout with a stomach ailment that sidelined him all of April and half of May.
“I don’t think the physical part’s an issue anymore,” Wedge said.
The mental part is something else. Gutierrez has been putting in the work, but Wedge said he can be extremely hard on himself at times.
That pressing is something the two of them discussed today. Wedge wants to see Gutierrez put in a good day of work, sit the game out, then come back tomorrow.
Wedge has seen Gutierrez before. And like many is Seattle, he’s still trying to figure out exactly what Gutierrez can be.
Gutierrez has a strong final part of the season in 2007 to help the Indians make the playoffs and nearly the World Series in his first big league action.
That gained him a starting job in 2008, but Gutierrez faded badly with extended playing time.
In 2009 with the Mariners, Gutierrez again faded down the stretch — which the team and player attributed to sore knees at the time.
Last year, Gutierrez again faded badly in the second half. That was attributed to his stomach ailment, since diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome.
This year, the stomach problem kept him out the first six weeks. Now, halfway through the season, the M’s are still waiting for Gutierrez to get it going yet again.
Wedge was asked whether he sees anything different from the present-day Gutierrez versus the one he worked with in 2007 and 2008 in Cleveland.
“He’s in a stronger position to hit,” Wedge said. “He’s in a stronger position to approach the baseball and to hit the baseball.”
But approach is one thing. Getting the job done something else.
And the reality is that, for all of Gutierrez’s defensive prowess, he’s never been able to put together a consistent full season at the plate. This is his fourth full year trying.
So, indeed, there are plenty of eyes on Gutierrez this season. Not only because he’s become the worst hitter on a team that desperately needs offense and has been let down by many of the position players earning the most money.
The Mariners would like to see the “real” Gutierrez step up.
If he doesn’t, they might have a much better idea at season’s end of what the “real” Gutierrez actually is. And then, as with other holes thoughout this lineup, they’ll have a better idea on how to proceed.
51 Ichiro Suzuki – L RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
4 Adam Kennedy – L 3B
17 Justin Smoak – S 1B
13 Dustin Ackley – L 2B
29 Jack Cust – L DH
56 Greg Halman CF
8 Carlos Peguero – L LF
3 Josh Bard – S C
36 Michael Pineda RHP
19 Jemile Weeks – S 2B
29 Scott Sizemore 3B
4 Coco Crisp – S CF
55 Hideki Matsui – L DH
22 Chris Carter 1B
12 David DeJesus – L RF
28 Conor Jackson LF
8 Kurt Suzuki C
2 Cliff Pennington – S SS
32 Brandon McCarthy RHP