Gutierrez comes off DL; Wells sent to Tacoma
After two months on the disabled list following a concussion, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez has been activated by the Mariners and will be with the team today as it opens a four-game series against the Twins at Target Field.
Outfielder Casper Wells was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to make room on the 25-man roster.
Gutierrez, 29, had played only 13 games this season after coming back from a partially torn pectoral muscle when he got hit in the head by a pickoff throw to first base on June 28. After dealing with recurring headaches, he finally was able to make a rehab stint with Tacoma and hit .333 with seven RBIs and two home runs in seven games.
He’ll provide some center field options for manager Eric Wedge, with Michael Saunders having missed the past two games with a groin injury after colliding with right fielder Eric Thames in the ninth inning of Friday’s 9-8 loss to the White Sox.
Saunders said on Sunday he’s hopeful of being ready to return by Monday, but he can also play left or right field.
Gutierrez was a 2010 Gold Glove winner and is one of the premier defensive center fielders in the game when healthy, but has struggled to stay on the field the past two seasons. He played just 92 games while hitting .224 in 2011 after dealing with a digestive issue early in the year and then straining his oblique muscle in the final month.
A career .256 hitter in eight years in the Majors, Gutierrez was batting .267 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 45 at-bats this season when he was hit in the face by Boston’s Franklin Morales while going back to first base.
Wells, 27, has hit .226 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 74 games with the Mariners. He snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a two-run home run in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the White Sox.
Wells had lost playing time recently with Trayvon Robinson getting most of the duty in left field and Eric Thames in right. He’ll be with the Rainiers for their season-ended eight-game road trip starting in Las Vegas on Monday night, then be eligible to rejoin the Mariners after Tacoma’s season ends on Sept. 3.