It’s been a long, slow, frustrating grind to get healthy for Franklin Gutierrez, who hasn’t felt right since, really, spring training. But now he believes that doctors have finally pinpointed the cause of his leg and hip problems, which he termed a “genetic” blood issue that caused inflammation in his joints and arthritis-like symptoms. Gutierrez said he was even having inflammation in his eyes.
“I started taking some medicine, and it’s working now,” he said. “It took about three or four weeks to start feeling better. I didn’t know what I had and they didn’t know either. They found out that it caused all these things. As soon as I started the medicine, I started feeling better and better and better.
“It’s been a long time, I’m telling you. I’ve been having a long rehab. I’ve had some issues with my legs. It hasn’t been easy for me. I’m feeling much better. I’m feeling more normal now. That’s the only thing that matters right now. I’m going to try to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Gutierrez, in fact, believes he’s capable of playing every day, as he has been with Tacoma.
“Obviously, it’s been frustrating, because no one wants to be on the DL,” he said. “No one wants to have an injury. I just want to help my team, I just want to be here. It’s been a tough road for me. I just want to stay positive and do whatever I can the rest of the season.”
Manager Eric Wedge said he’s hopeful Gutierrez is finally ready to contribute on a regular basis.
“He’s felt really good the last four or five days especially,” Wedge said. “He’s been playing both in center field and right field down there just in case we need to put him in right field to protect him health wise. I thought that was something that was important to do. But if he feels good, we’ll have him in center. I’m comfortable with (Michael) Saunders in center as well. We’ll just work off of Gut.”
Does that mean playing him every day?
“I think so. We’re not going to push the envelope. I don’t think we can with him. We just want to keep him in a good spot and that’s where he was right now. I can play Saundo anywhere. That’s the luxury I have with him. I feel comfortable with him in left, center and right.”
Gutierrez is hitting sixth tonight, with Endy Chavez leading off, but may eventually find his way back to the top of the order.
“Yeah, he could,” Wedge said “I’m just really pleased with what Endy is doing. We don’t need to throw him in the fire right away. One thing with Gut, we have the luxury where we can really hit him anywhere in the lineup. He could be a leadoff guy for you, he could be a middle of the order bat for you. That’s the luxury we have. We are just going to see how it works out early on.”
Wedge said Michael Morse’s quad injury wasn’t responding, leading to his placement on the DL.
“We pinch hit him the other day and he said he felt it at home plate. That was a pretty big red flag for us. He helped bridge the gap for us. With Smoak being down, and Guti not here and Morales a little bit banged up and Bay little banged up, for him to suck it up and try to get through it, that was great.
“We did feel like he was going to progress better than he did, but ultimately he didn’t. I think the best thing for him and for us in regards to the season is to shut him down and get him healthy.”
Morse will likely undergo a short rehab stint in the minors before his activation.
Wedge said Bay (hamstring) is improving, but added, “I’m not sure he’s going to be an option for us just yet. But he should be sooner than later.”
Meanwhile Kyle Seager acknowledged he made an error in judgment last night when he tried to advance two bases on a passed ball with no outs in a one-run game. He was thrown out handily at third base.
“It’s a stupid play on my part,” he said. “I saw him kind of nonchalantly going back there for the ball, and I thought I could take advantage of it. But that’s all-around a dumb play on my part. No outs, you’re in scoring position, the guys hitting behind me are the middle of the order. You’ve got to let them swing the bat with a guy in scoring position. That was stupid.
“I was being aggressive, but at the same time, you have to be smart about it, too. You can’t be running wildly. I saw him go back, and I was running hard to second. I saw him not go that hard after it. I rounded second, and kind of hesitated. If going to do that play, I have to be running whole time. As soon as I hesitated, I was done.”
In likely cutting ties with outfielder Eric Thames, designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Gutierrez, the Mariners are left with nothing to show for another trade by Jack Zduriencik if Thames leaves the organization. Reliever Steve Delabar, sent to Toronto for Thames last July, is 4-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 31 games for the Blue Jays. In 36 innings, he’s allowed just 25 hits while striking out 47.