SEATTLE - Franklin Gutierrez returned to Safeco Field on Monday, a healthier man than when the Seattle Mariners last saw him - but a center fielder headed to Tacoma, nonetheless.
“I just wanted to be in this place right here,” said Gutierrez, still dealing with the aftermath of stomach problems. “Obviously I’ve been going through a lot of things and hopefully we’re getting to the point where I’m feeling better and that’s it.
“That’s my main point right now, trying to feel better. Trying to gain my strength back and trying to be ready to help the team.”
Manager Eric Wedge said the team will let Gutierrez work out with them this week, then probably send him to Tacoma to play with the Rainiers while the Mariners go to Kansas City for four days.
“We’re going to let him run around here a little bit, put our eyes on him and make a plan,” Wedge said. “The baseball side is coming along, but we have to look at the physical side, the mental side, as well. He’s been through a great deal.”
What was it like for Gutierrez?
“Imagine you felt bad every day, every meal,” Gutierrez said. “I couldn’t eat. I lost more than 15 pounds.”
He has been undergoing tests since early in spring training. Have doctors determined the problem?
“Not really. They don’t find anything right now,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve been taking some medications that hopefully are going to help me to feel better and that’s where I am right now. I’ve been having three-four good days being able to eat a little more and I’m feeling better, so that’s very important for me so I can feel 100 percent physically.”
Gutierrez has played a few innings since the first week of March, and is likely a week to 10 days away from playing full time, but coming back to Safeco Field did have one unexpected perk – waiting in his locker was his American League Gold Glove Award.
“That was the first thing I saw when I got here, here in my locker. It makes me feel excited because not everybody gets this type of award,” he said.
Second baseman Jack Wilson returned to the lineup for the first time since taking himself out of a game in Texas, and Wedge said the matter was closed. “I don’t hold a grudge,” he said. David Aardsma will pitch a simulated inning against teammates before the game today. The Blue Jays are looking for ways to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki, who batted .409 against them in 2010. On the second pitch he saw Monday, Ichiro singled. Clearly, Toronto is still searching. Even at Safeco Field, Milton Bradley now wears ear plugs during every at-bat. Why? He’s not saying. After stealing seven bases in their first four games, the Mariners stole one over the next five.
Seattle plays host to Toronto at 7:10 p.m. today in a game that will be televised on Root. Probable starting pitchers: Toronto’s Ricky Romero (0-0, 1.32 ERA) vs. Michael Pineda (0-1, 4.50).