Is it time for Franklin Gutierrez to be a full-time player once again?
Gutierrez seems to think so after coming off the disabled list to make five starts in center field for Seattle in the Mariners' last eight games. He had his best game yet on Wednesday in Minnesota with a single, his first home run, a walk and two runs scored.
Manager Eric Wedge has long talked about the importance of a soft landing for Gutierrez, who has battled stomach troubles that finally were diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, since last year
After the 5-1 trip ended on Wednesday, Wedge hinted that having Gutierrez sharing time with Michael Saunders in center field might be at an end.
"He feels good and you can tell he's starting to find his swing," Wedge said. "He had some big hits on this road trip. We're trying to take care of him, obviously, but I think after the off-day tomorrow, it'll be more working off him regarding how he's feeling physically."
That's music to the ears of Gutierrez, who said Wednesday he thought he was ready to be able to play every day beginning with this weekend at home against the New York Yankees.
There is some serious indication that having their Gold Glove-winning center fielder back in the lineup is good for the Mariners. Seattle is 5-0 in games Gutierrez has started since his return.
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