Tomorrow night, after the Mariners wrap up their series with a day game against the Texas Rangers, I’ll be on the air hosting a special hour-long baseball program. I’ll discuss the Mariners, where they sit roughly a quarter of the way through the season and where they go from here. Take some of your calls as well. I’m excited about it and would love to hear from some of you when the phone lines open up.
So, that will be tomorrow at 7 p.m. on Sports Radio KJR here in Seattle.
Over here at the ballpark, Franklin Gutierrez is in town and working out with the Mariners this week. He took some batting practice earlier and, to be honest, looks to be in excellent physical shape after the near three months of recovery from a torn pectoral muscle and now, plantar fasciitis in his heel.
On the latter issue, he won’t know how good or bad things are until he tries running on it again tomorrow. Gutierrez feels good right now, but running will be the key — as it always is with this particular injury.
“I was doing some exercises down in Arizona and felt something there,” Gutierrez said. “But I didn’t pay much attention to it. We play through soreness. I just kept doing it and doing it and it got worse. And I had to stop. I was ready to go and do my rehab assignment and it just happened.”
Now, that rehab won’t take place for a bit still.
First, the Mariners will send Gutierrez back to extended spring training in Arizona so he can get some at-bats in. And then, once that is done, he’ll spend another 20 days on his minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Realistically, late June is looking like his probable return date — as long as Gutierrez doesn’t have any injury setbacks.
“He just needs to stay healthy,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Nothing more, nothing less. It’s been all about the heel here for the last two or three weeks. He’s been throwing fine, he’s been hitting fine, so it’s just about him being able to move around without that heel giving him any problems.”
Wedge said Gutierrez was looking “real good” prior to the heel issue, but “by the time this is all said and done, he’ll be far enough removed from that where he’s going to have to go down to Arizona and get some more at-bats.”
Wedge said that catcher Miguel Olivo should be back by the weekend. Olivo went hitless in a DH appearance for Tacoma today. The Rainiers have another game tomorrow in which Olivo will catch.
They then have the option of playing him yet again on Thursday if they want to before bringing him back up to Seattle. Wedge repeated today that he wants to see Olivo play at least nine innings behind home plate.
Olivo caught seven innings last night.
It’s the mainly right-handed lineup tonight with Casper Wells in left field and Alex Liddi at third base and starting against southpaw Matt Harrison.
Wells and Liddi are two obvious candidates to head back to Class AAA to make roster room for Olivo. Another candidate could be Chone Figgins.
But I’d be surprised if the Mariners do go that route. They would have to eat just under $16 million in remaining Figgins salary and do have AAA options on Wells and Liddi. Once you eat the $16 million, it’s gone forever. Wells and Liddi can always be called back up again.
That said, I can make an easy counter-argument to that. Figgins isn’t playing. When the team needs right-handed bats, does it turn to switch-hitting Figgins? Nope. It goes to Liddi and Wells.
I’ll tell you what, if Wells wanted to make his case, he could do it right here tonight. When asked pre-game what he’d like to see out of Wells, Wedge uttered something about how he’d like to see him hit lefties.
That’s usually a given when you have a platoon right-handed hitter on the team. But Wells has yet to be convincing in that regard with a .233 average, though his slugging looks decent because of a home run popped against Andy Pettitte.
He hasn’t played all that much, but playing time is never a given for younger players. If he can’t perform in limited action, that can be used as an argument to send him back to AAA as well. In other words, some more hits tonight will go a long way towards making a lasting impression.
So, we’ll see. Like I said, this will be an interesting decision.
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
2B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland
LHP Matt Harrison
DH Dustin Ackley
3B Alex Liddi
C Jesus Montero
1B Justin Smoak
2B Kyle Seager
LF Casper Wells
CF Michael Saunders
SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Hector Noesi