March 25, 2011 in Sports

CF Franklin Gutierrez may miss season opener due to illness

Kirby Arnold Everett Herald
Associated Press photo

Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki makes a running catch to take a hit away from Kansas City Royals’ Melky Cabrera.
(Full-size photo)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is having stomach problems again, and if they’re not settled soon he may not be able to play in the Seattle Mariners’ season opener next Friday at Oakland.

Gutierrez hasn’t played since Saturday and the Mariners don’t know when he will play again. With six more exhibition games available for Gutierrez to play before the opener, manager Eric Wedge said time is running out for the 2010 Gold Glove winner to be ready.

“I’m not ready to give in to it just yet, but we’re getting there pretty quick,” Wedge said.

Gutierrez struggled late last season with stomach issues and, even though the team said in the offseason that he seemed to be OK, he continued to have problems early in spring training. Multiple medical tests performed early in spring training led team doctors to conclude that Gutierrez has a slow digestive system that can be controlled with diet and medicine.

Gutierrez has played only nine spring games.

“It’s been a tough spring for him,” Wedge said. “We’re just still trying to figure out something. Obviously, he’s behind. Once we do figure it out we’ll reassess and go from there. But it’s getting late.”

Wedge said only that Michael Saunders or Ryan Langerhans would likely replace Gutierrez if he’s not ready by the opener.

Fister crumbles

In his next-to-last exhibition start, right-hander Doug Fister pitched better through four innings Thursday than he has all spring. Then he struggled in the fifth and sixth innings and was hit hard.

Fister allowed only a hit and a walk through 4 2/3 innings before he started leaving pitches up in the strike zone. He gave up six hits and two walks in the next 1 1/3 innings, including two-run homers by the Royals’ Lance Zawadzki and Alex Gordon in the fifth.

Wedge said Fister, who threw 97 pitches, didn’t get tired in his last two innings but got too quick with his delivery.

“He had a nice tempo, nice rhythm with his delivery, and then he started to speed up a little bit and his arm had trouble catching up,” Wedge said.

A first for League

Brandon League, who’ll likely be the interim closer until David Aardsma is healthy, pitched an inning Thursday, working on back-to-back days for the first time at spring training.

How did he feel?

“Tell you tomorrow,” he said. “When I was out there, my arm felt fine.”

League pitched a perfect inning Wednesday night against the Rockies, striking out three, but struggled Thursday against the Royals. He allowed three hits and a run on a sacrifice fly.


Non-roster right-hander Jamey Wright continued his strong bid to win a bullpen spot, pitching a perfect eighth inning. He hasn’t allowed a run in 10 exhibition innings. “He throws the ball where he wants to, he knows what he wants to do with the baseball, he uses all of his pitches and he pitches with a great deal of confidence,” Wedge said. … Left-hander Royce Ring, also trying to crack the bullpen as a non-roster player, gave up his first runs of camp when he allowed a walk and a two-run homer by Melky Cabrera in the seventh inning. … Miguel Olivo went 1 for 4 and Jack Cust 1 for 5 in games against the Rangers’ minor league teams in nearby Surprise.

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