Gutierrez in center tonight as Saunders still out

With Franklin Gutierrez back with the team today after being activated off the disabled list, he’s sliding right into the lineup in center field against the Twins with Michael Saunders still sidelined with a tender groin muscle.

Saunders hasn’t played since colliding with right fielder Eric Thames on the final play of Friday’s 9-8 loss in Chicago, but is day-to-day and hoping to be back by Tuesday.

Gutierrez has been the hard-luck story for the past two seasons, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do with the season’s final six weeks. Obviously the Mariners would love to see a strong finish by the 2010 Gold Glover, who still has a year remaining on his contract and figures prominently in the team’s plans … if he can stay healthy.

Tonight is Felix night as well, with Mr. Perfecto gunning for his ninth straight win. Hernandez hasn’t lost since June 12 in San Diego, going 8-0 with a 1.53 ERA over his past 13 starts. So, yeah, that’s pretty good.

He’s taking on a Twins club coming off a 2-8 road trip and sprting the worst record in the AL at 52-75. The Mariners themselves stubbed their toe with three one-run losses at U.S. Cellular Field over the weekend, so they’d like to get back on track after their eight-game streak came to an end.

Here’s today’s full lineup for the 5:10 p.m. PT start against Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-6, 7.06 ERA):

Dustin Ackley 2B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero DH
John Jaso C
Justin Smoak 1B
Eric Thames RF
Trayvon Robinson LF
Brendan Ryan SS

Felix Hernandez RHP

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