February 2012

Guti to miss at least a month with partially torn pec

Franklin Gutierrez has suffered a partial tear of the pectoral muscle in his right chest and will miss at least the next four weeks, the Mariners announced after the Gold Glove center fielder flew home to Seattle to meet with their team physician.

Gutierrez played just 92 games last season because of health issues and now figures to miss at least the start of this coming season despite reporting to camp in much-improved physical shape after learning how to deal with a digestive issue that caused him to lose 20 pounds and considerable strength in 2011.

Gutierrez injured himself while making throws from the outfield early in Tuesday’s workout session at the Peoria Sports Complex and was flown to Seattle for an MRI test and examination by Mariners medical director Ed Khalfayan.

The club says Gutierrez won’t need surgery and will be able to begin baseball activities in about four weeks, then be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis after that. Given that he’ll need to regain his strength and timing, it’s fair to assume it’ll be at least six weeks before he’s ready to play in a best-case scenario.

The Mariners open regular-season play in one month, facing the A’s in Tokyo on March 28-29. They’ll then resume the regular season on April 6 in Oakland.

Manager Eric Wedge said there was “considerable concern” before the official verdict was received from Dr. Khalafayn.

Gutierrez, 29, reported to camp two weeks ago in excellent condition, having put on more than 20 pounds after fighting with digestive issues for the previous 18 months. He missed most of Spring Training and started last season on the disabled list after being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, then went back on the DL after injuring his oblique muscle in the final month.

The 2010 Gold Glove winner hit just .224 in 322 at-bats, with the illness robbing much of his strength and resulting in just one home run, 19 RBIs and a .273 slugging percentage.

But when Gutierrez got to camp this month, he checked in at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and said he felt the best he’s been since 2009, when he batted .283 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs with a .425 slugging percentage in his first season in Seattle.

Wedge said the injury isn’t very common for baseball players, and he wasn’t going to speculate on the difficulty of returning from such a problem.

“We haven’t gone down that road yet,” he said. “Obviously we will right away as soon as we get a solid diagnosis, but we haven’t even allowed ourselves to go there yet.”

Michael Saunders, Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson are the primary center field options on the 40-man roster, while veteran infielder Chone Figgins played there in Wednesday’s intrasquad game as Wedge began looking at his options.

“We have Figgins slotted to play some outfield anyway,” Wedge said. “Obviously depending on what happens with Gut, we’ll have to alter our plans a little bit. But versus a year ago, we’ve got options. We’ve got three or four guys we feel can play out there.”

Wedge: Gutierrez injury of ‘considerable concern’

Franklin Gutierrez was flown back to Seattle to have tests evaluated on his injured pectoral muscle. (Greg Johns/MLB.com)

Gold Glove center fielder Franklin Gutierrez flew home to Seattle to have his injured pectoral muscle evaluated and the Mariners are awaiting word Wednesday on the significance of that issue.

The fact Gutierrez returned to Seattle for further testing indicates the injury is worrisome.

Gutierrez injured the muscle in his chest while making throws from the outfield early in Tuesday’s workout session at the Peoria Sports Complex. He is being examined by team medical director Ed Khalfayan following an MRI test.

“There’s considerable concern, but we’re not going to go past that until we hear from Dr. Khalafayn and he takes a first-hand look at him,” manager Eric Wedge said.

The Mariners open Cactus League play on Friday against the A’s in Phoenix and Gutierrez definitely won’t be playing in that game.

“Best-case scenario, he’s going to miss some time here, the next few days and maybe even beyond that,” said Wedge.

Wedge said the injury isn’t very common for baseball players and he wasn’t going to speculate on the difficulty of returning from such a problem.

“We haven’t gone down that road yet,” he said. “Obviously we will right away as soon as we get a solid diagnosis, but we haven’t even allowed ourselves to go there yet.”

Pitching set for first four Cactus League games

The Mariners have set their pitching rotations for the first four games of Cactus League play, but Felix Hernandez won’t be among the initial starters.

Hernandez, who’s being lined up to pitch on Opening Day in Tokyo against the A’s on March 28, will throw in a simulated game Thursday at the Mariners practice facility and then have a side session on Saturday.

Blake Beavan will make the first Cactus League start on Friday against Oakland in Phoenix, with Hector Noesi starting against the A’s on Saturday in Peoria.

Jason Vargas will be first up on the hill Sunday in the annual charity game against the Padres in Peoria, with Hisashi Iwakuma making his Cactus League debut on Monday against San Diego in what is officially a “road game” at Peoria Stadium.

All those games start at 1:05 p.m. MT, 12:05 p.m. PT.

Ryan at short, Figgins in center in today’s intrasquad

A couple interesting tidbits from the lineups for today’s final intrasquad game. First off, Brendan Ryan is at shortstop for the first time this spring and leading off for the visiting team after being held out of all throwing for the first two weeks.

Chone Figgins is playing center field as Eric Wedge continues moving him around. Figgins played shortstop in Tuesday’s game and the Mariners suddenly have a center field issue with Franklin Gutierrez injuring his pectoral muscle making a throw Tuesday morning.

We should learn more about Gutierrez’s situation today.

Here are the full lineups:

Team 1
Chone Figgins CF
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Justin Smoak 1B
Jesus Montero C
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Trayvon Robinson LF
Jesus Sucre DH
Carlos Triunfel SS

James Paxton LHP

Team 2
Brendan Ryan SS
Kyle Seager 2B
Casper Wells CF
Mike Carp LF
John Jaso 1B
Carlos Peguero RF
Luis Jimenez DH
Adam Moore C
Francisco Martinez 3B

Taijuan Walker RHP

Gutierrez having MRI on injured pec muscle

Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was scratched from Tuesday’s intrasquad game and was undergoing an MRI test later in the day after feeling some pain in his upper right chest while throwing the ball during the morning workout.

Gutierrez, finally healthy after a year and a half struggle with digestive issues, figures to be a key figure in the Mariners plans this season if he can stay healthy.

“We don’t really know anything yet,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We’re waiting on the MRI results and will figure out the game plan after we get that. He felt something in the pec region when we were taking infield today, so we’ll wait and see what the results show and go from there.”

Wedge saw Gutierrez suffer the injury, then shut him down after another throw as trainers took him off the field.

“He’d thrown the ball a few times before that and he played catch well,” Wedge said. “He’s been great all camp. As you all know, he looks great. So it’s just one of those things and we’ll see.”

Gutierrez comes off field with throwing problem

Still trying to learn more on a situation involving center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who was taken off the practice field late this morning after apparently experiencing problems with his arm or shoulder while making throws.

The Mariners have said they have nothing to report yet, so we’ll wait and see what the trainers find out.

Certainly the Mariners would like a healthy and happy Gutierrez, given all he’s been through in the past year and a half.

He is scheduled to lead off in the intrasquad game shortly, but by all appearances will be scratched from that game. Will let you know when we find out more.

Today’s intrasquad lineups

Here is the lineups for the 12:45 p.m. MT game today in Peoria, the third of four intrasquad contests set up by Eric Wedge.

Team 1

Chone Figgins SS
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Luis Jimenez DH
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Michael Saunders CF
Johermyn Chavez LF

Hisashi Iwakuma

Team 2

Franklin Gutierez CF
John Jaso C
Mike Carp 1B
Jesus Montero DH
Casper Wells LF
Alex Liddi 3B
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Mike Wilson RF
Nick Franklin SS

Jason Vargas LHP

The interesting thing today is Figgins getting some work at short, with Munenori Kawasaki at second base as Wedge gets a look at some infield options.

Long-time scout Frank Mattox passes away suddenly

Tough news at camp on Monday as word just released that long-time Mariners pro scout Frank Mattox died Sunday night at his home in Peoria, collapsing suddenly while sitting down to watch the Academy Awards on television, according to a team spokesman

Mattox, 49, spent the past 18 years working for the Mariners and was the team’s Scouting Director from 1998-2003. Among his first-round picks when heading Seattle’s draft were Matt Thornton in 1999 and Adam Jones in 2003.

He served as Director of Player Development from 2004-07 before returning to a role in pro scouting.

“It is difficult to put into words the depth of the Mariners sadness upon hearing the news last night,” said Mariners president Chuck Armstrong. “On behalf of the Mariners organization and ownership, we wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Frank’s family: his wonderful wife Sylvia, and three beautiful children Myles, Blake and Marisol.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Mariners organization are with the Mattox family as they deal with this tragedy.”

Before coming to the Mariners, Mattox worked for the Colorado Rockies and was their Scout of the Year in 1993. He played seven seasons of Minor League ball in the Brewers system after earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Economy of Natural Resources from the University of California at Berkeley.

“I’ve known and worked with Frank for nearly 20 years” Armstrong said. “His positive personality, scouting acumen and team-first attitude will be missed among our baseball staff and n the Mariners family.”

In addition to his wife and children, Mattox is survived by his mother, Vel, and father, Frankie.

Pitching lineups set for final two intrasquad games

The primary purpose of the four intrasquad games this spring for the Mariners is to get innings for all the 35 pitchers in camp and that process continues with the final two contests Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Jason Vargas is already set to go three innings on Tuesday after getting seven quick outs in his debut on Friday. He’ll face off against Hisashi Iwakuma to start that game, with Iwakuma scheduled for two frames.

The Wednesday contest will feature a nice opening inning, with James Paxton and Taijuan Walker starting for their respective squads. They’ll each throw one inning, with Danny Hultzen to follow Paxton on Team 1.

The Mariners will then have Thursday off before opening Cactus League play on Friday in Phoenix against the A’s.

Here are the full pitching lineups:

Tuesday

Team 1: Hisashi Iwakuma (2), Shawn Camp, Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman, Cesar Jimenez, Chance Ruffin, Lucas Luetge.
Team 2: Jason Vargas (3), Shawn Kelley, Hong-Chih Kuo, Steve Delabar, Sean Henn, Scott Patterson.

Wednesday

Team 1: James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Charlie Furbush, Tom Wilhelmsen, Forrest Snow, Jeff Marquez, Jarrett Grube, Yoervis Medina.
Team 2: Taijuan Walker, Brandon League, Erasmo Ramirez, Josh Kinney, Matt Fox, Steve Garrison, Philippe Valiquette, Mauricio Robles.

The two intrasquad games will be played on Field 1 in the Mariners Peoria Sports Complex. The only pitcher who won’t have thrown in a game by the end of the intrasquad action is veteran lefty George Sherrill, who continues to throw bullpens on the side as he’s being brought along slowly.

Lineups for Friday’s intrasquad opener

The Mariners will get going with their first of four intrasquad games on Friday and it’s always interesting to see how players are used right out of the gate. Manager Eric Wedge will “mix and match” things initially, trying to get all his players some game time.

Here are his lineups for the 12:45 p.m. MT contest that will play out on the club’s main practice field in Peoria:

Team 1: Chone Figgins 3B, Dustin Ackley 2B, Casper Wells LF, Justin Smoak 1B, Miguel Olivo C, Munenori Kawasaki SS, Carlos Peguero RF, Guillermo Quiroz DH, Michael Saunders CF.

Team 2: Darren Ford CF, Brendan Ryan DH, Ichiro Suzuki RF, Mike Carp LF, Jesus Montero C, Kyule Seager 3B, Alex Liddi 1B, Luis Rodriguez 2B, Carlos Triunfel SS.

On the pitching side:

Team 1: Jason Vargas, Shawn Camp, Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman, Steve Delabar, Charlie Furbush and Chance Ruffin.

Team 2: Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Shawn Kelley, Hong-Chih Kuo, Cesar Jimenez, Erasmo Ramirez and Lucas Luetge.

Vargas is scheduled to throw two innings. Everyone else will throw one.

Franklin Gutierrez, slowed by some tightness in his legs, won’t play Friday but could be ready by Sunday’s second intrasquad game, Wedge said.

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