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July 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Mariners’ pre-game notes on Gutierrez, Smoak, Hernandez

The Mariners got good news on Franklin Gutierrez, still trying to come back from his concussion. A battery of tests all came back negative, and he will resume exercising today.
“Obviously, the next step beyond that is to get back into baseball activity,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s had a couple, three days with no headaches. That’s a good sign. We’ll see how he does now with activity.”
Gutierrez has been out since June 29, and this latest time away from baseball will push back his return even more. But it’s a positive that he seems to not have had a serious setback.

Wedge was impressed that Justin Smoak reported right away to Tacoma yesterday, though MLB rules allowed him three days to report. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and stolen base in his first game.
“The first thing I take into consideration is the fact, I didn’t tell him to report there yesterday,” Wedge said. “He chose to go down there. I told him they were playing at home. That’s all I said. I even talked to Brownie (Rainiers manager Daren Brown) about that — you let me know if he shows up or not, and if not. I would have been fine with that, too. Nothing wrong with taking a break. But it didn’t surprise me he showed up there, he was the first one there, and got it going.
“For me, it’s not about performance early on. Whether he struck out three times or hit three home runs last night, that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is he’s down there, he’s working and he’s going to work. He’s a worker. The intangibles are there. He’s a tough kid. That’s why I’ve got every reason to believe this guy is going to be in the middle of all this.”
Wedge reiterated that he didn’t think Felix Hernandez was trying to hit Yankees hitters last night. He plunked three in his last two innings.
“Later in a game you’re trying to execute pitches, you’re trying to do a little too much, your arm drags a little and you don’t catch up, that’s what happens,” he said. “He tried to drive a pitch inside, you try to get a little more on a fastball and you just miss it. It happens. That’s baseball. This guy is out there competing. Every pitch means something. When you’re in that type of ballgame, he’s all in. If you miss, you miss. That’s what happened a few times last night.”
Wedge said he’s been pleased with the team’s progress since the All-Star break, noticing they seem more comfortable.
“Getting to the point where you’re at peace with the every-day life of being a big leaguer. Not satisfied, but understanding everything that goes along with it. You know what I mean. You’ve got a great example across the way. But they’ve got an infield where everybody is making $20 million a year, too. That just didn’t come by the wayside. They had to do certain things to get to that point. At one point in time, they were all young players, too. But that’s what I’m saying. When it comes, it’ll all come together. Because these kids will all grow together.”



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