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April 2, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says Franklin Gutierrez being eased in slowly

Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez gets the start in left field tonight in his first Mariners game action since 2008.

Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez gets the start in left field tonight in his first Mariners game action since 2008.

Let’s get this out of the way: Franklin Gutierrez is said to not be injured. He’s available to come into tonight’s game late if he has to. The Mariners are merely easing him back into action after the spring training concerns about his leg stiffness.

At least, that’s what Mariners manager Eric Wedge had to say about it this afternoon. Wedge does have to break several of his players into action before the season gets too far in. So, don’t be surprised to see Jason Bay start at some point the next two days. Maybe tomorrow night with a left-hander on the mound and Michael Saunders having played twice. But tonight, it’s Raul Ibanez who gets in there for his first Mariners action since the 2008 season.

“We’re going to continue to get everybody in there,” Wedge said. “The guys did a nice job this spring. We want to be sure we don’t give them too much time off. As we mentioned before, we’re going to work to get all these guys in there, so Raul is in there today.”

Naturally, Wedge was asked follow-up questions about Gutierrez, since he did have the lone two RBI of last night’s game and is now sitting just one day into the season.

“We do want to make sure we take care of Guti early on,” Wedge said. “That’s part of it. Just trying to take care of him. The fact of the matter is, you still have to find a way to get Raul into the lineup, so, it works both ways. We’ll get him back in there tomorrow and Guti will be ready for us late in the game if we need him.

“But we want to make sure we build a little momentum with Guti,” Wedge said. “We want to make sure we keep him healthy because obviously he means a lot to us.”

Wedge was also pleased with the work he saw last night from catcher Jesus Montero, especially how communicative he was with Felix Hernandez at times.

“I think you’ve seen it the last two or three weeks, actually,” Wedge said. “His presence out there is just that. He’s had more presence. And I think that’s important. It’s great for hm to build trust with the pitching staff. It’s a leadership position.”

A seemingly healthy Franklin Gutierrez busts a move pre-game during Mariners warmup.

A seemingly healthy Franklin Gutierrez busts a move pre-game during Mariners warmup.

Wedge also said he liked the way Montero was “busting his tail” hustling up the line on grounders and getting into position to back plays up on defense. It was pointed out to Wedge that Montero didn’t quite look like he was busting up the line full throttle on that second inning grounder he wound up thrown out at first base on. The ball was snagged by diving second baseman Eric Sogard, who somehow shoveled the ball to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who threw Montero out on a 4-6-3 play you don’t see too often. Oakland nearly pulled off a double play, but Lowrie couldn’t touch the bag at second before throwing to first to get Montero, who seemed to take forever to get to first base.

“Effort, we’re talking about,” Wedge said with a laugh when explainign why he’d complimented Montero’s baserunning. “Great effort.”

Wedge said he couldn’t have blamed Montero for slowing up a bit, thinking the ball would get through for a single.

“I think when he hit it, he was as surprised as anybody else that the guy got to it,” Wedge said. “It was a great play. Almost an unbelievable play if the guy could stay on the bag there. I don’t know how close he was to it but he had to be pretty close to the bag there at second base. I think that’s a normal reaction (by Montero). The guy went a long way to get that.”

0 Comments | More in pregame | Topics: franklin gutierrez; raul ibanez; jason bay; eric wedge

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