Mariners call up Gutierrez from Triple-A
SEATTLE -- On Tuesday night in Tacoma, Franklin Gutierrez had an 0-for-3 night in a 4-3 loss for the Rainiers.
A day later he hit second and played left field for the Mariners in an 8-2 loss to Kansas City, returning to Seattle after more than a year away from the big leagues. Gutierrez went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
"It's a blessing for me and I feel like I've been working pretty hard to get here again," Gutierrez said before the game Wednesday. "That's why it's a huge accomplishment for me to be here."
The Mariners optioned reserve outfielder James Jones to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for Gutierrez, 32, who will primarily play left field and hit against left-handed pitching.
Gutierrez made his first start of the season against Royals lefty Danny Duffy, who entering Wednesday had allowed a .391 on-base percentage to right-handed hitters, as opposed to a .333 clip for left-handed hitters, in eight starts this season.
"We're getting ready to face a lot of left-handers and you have an opportunity to manipulate your roster and bring pieces in that can help you at certain times," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "I think if you look at our roster, we're probably a little flawed with Jones and Ackley filling the same role."
Gutierrez, who did not play in 2014 as he dealt with ankylosing spondylitis, a spinal nerve condition that has affected him over the last several years, hit .317 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 48 games with Tacoma this season.
Gutierrez said he adjusted his daily routine, exercise patterns and diet to improve his health over the past year. McClendon said Seattle's newest outfielder likely won't play every day as the Mariners do not often face left-handed starters back-to-back.
"I have some days where I'll be achy," Gutierrez said of his health. "I think the key part for me is recovering, but it just depends on how I feel."
Given his latest opportunity, Gutierrez said he would try to leave his mark as a righty in a lefty-heavy Seattle lineup.
"I'm going to apply my game and do the same thing I was doing [in Tacoma]," Gutierrez said. "Taking some pitches, putting some good swings on the ball. Anything can happen, so I'm ready for it."
• McClendon said left-hander James Paxton was set to play catch on Wednesday in his recovery from a strained tendon in his left middle finger. Paxton had not thrown since suffering the injury May 28 against the Indians.
"It's a step in the right direction," McClendon said. "He's closer than he was yesterday to getting back on the mound."
• Fellow starter Hisashi Iwakuma will make his second Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Tacoma. McClendon said he hoped to have the 34-year-old right-hander throw five innings with a target pitch count of about 75.