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August 27, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Gutierrez returns to face Twins

No, Geoff’s not here in Minneapolis, sorry to say. I’m Pat Borzi, a veteran baseball writer who will be free-lancing this series for The Times.
I’ve been around so long I actually covered M’s manager Eric Wedge as a player with the Red Sox, writing for the Portland (Maine) Press Herald in the 1990’s. We both had more hair then. I’ve also been a Yankees and Mets beat writer for the Newark Star-Ledger, and I’m a frequent contributor to The New York Times on baseball and other topics.
But enough of that. There’s news here: Franklin Gutierrez is back. The Mariners activated him from the disabled list Monday, almost two months to the day after he suffered a concussion on a wayward pickoff throw from Boston’s Franklin Morales. Wedge plugged him back into the No. 2 spot in the order tonight against the Twins. Gutierrez, who also missed the first two months of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, had two homers and nine RBI in 13 games before the concussion. The Mariners were 5-5 in his 10 starts in the two-hole.
“It felt good writing his name in the lineup today,” Wedge said. “It’s a big piece for us. We saw what it meant earlier when we had him, how it tied our lineup together.
“He’s a guy who, for me, is the best of all worlds. He’s situationally sound. He understands the game. Puts up a good at-bat. Sees pitches. Can drive the ball. Can steal a bag for you if you need him to. Just the overall presence and experience, which is something we sorely lack offensively, is big for us.”

Gutierrez said the last lingering symptoms of the concussion – headaches – subsided two weeks ago. He hit .333 with two homers and seven RBI in a seven-game rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma. The concussion was Gutierrez’s second, following one early in his minor-league career after being hit by a pitch.
“I’m happy that I don’t have anything right now,” said Gutierrez, meaning concussion symptoms. “I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I’m feeling good.”
That last two seasons, that’s been rare. Gutierrez missed the first 41 games last year with stomach gastritis and almost all September with a strained left oblique. Now this season has been almost a waste.
“Everybody knows what’s been happening to me the last couple of years,” he said. “I just want to put that behind me. The team is playing good baseball and I want to be part of it. I want to try to help my team whatever way I can. That’s the most important thing.”
The Mariners made room for Gutierrez by optioning OF Casper Wells to Tacoma. Wedge said Wells will be among the September recalls.
Elsewhere, Michael Saunders (groin strain) took batting practice and may try to play Tuesday, Wedge said.



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