Guti makes his season debut in center tonight
Franklin Gutierrez makes his Mariners debut tonight in the 7:10 p.m. series finale with the Padres as the Gold Glove center fielder returns from a three-month injury absence.
Guti will bat eighth in his first game back, with Michael Saunders moving to left field as expected. Gutierrez said yesterday it will be an emotional moment for him returning to Safeco Field after all he’s been through recently, so will be interesting to see how he plays.
Two other interesting things to watch tonight. Erasmo Ramirez makes his first Major League start, filling the vacancy created by Blake Beavan’s return to Tacoma. Ramirez, 22, is a strike thrower like Beavan, but capable of bringing a little more heat from his 5-foot-10 frame. He’s also been working on some off-speed stuff and this could be a nice spot for his first start against a Padres team that doesn’t hit particularly well, and in the comfort of Safeco Field where the same two teams dueled to a 1-0 game last night.
Also, Munenori Kawasaki gets his second straight start at shortstop in place of Brendan Ryan. Manager Eric Wedge said yesterday he’s trying to help get Ryan’s bat going, so apparently they’re working on some things and giving him a little breather. Obviously Ryan’s defense is special — and Kawasaki isn’t much of an offensive threat either — so I don’t expect this to be a long-term situation.
But we’ll see how Kawasaki does with a second straight start. He’s batting .204 on the season with a .224 slugging percentage and .278 on-base. Ryan is at .157/.241/.267.
Here’s the full lineup: against Padres right-hander Edinson Volquez (2-6, 3.91):
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Dustin Ackley 2B
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero C
Justin Smoak 1B
Michael Saunders LF
John Jaso DH
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Munenori Kawasaki SS
Erasmo Ramirez RHP