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Originally published June 23, 2012 at 8:21 PM | Page modified June 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM

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Franklin Gutierrez feels better about health and game

Franklin Gutierrez is beginning to feel stronger and more comfortable, and had raised his average to .308 heading into Saturday's game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Mariners @ Padres, 1:05 p.m., ROOT Sports

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SAN DIEGO — The biggest story early in Mariners camp in February was the revival of Franklin Gutierrez, who reported in tremendous shape, his battles with irritable bowel syndrome under control, and belted balls all over the Peoria Sports Complex.

That ended, of course, before exhibition games even started, when Gutierrez suffered a partial tear of his right pectoral muscle. He endured a long rehab, complicated by plantar fasciitis, and didn't make his 2012 major-league debut until June 14.

Now, however, Gutierrez finally hopes his health problems — which included an oblique injury that knocked him out for most of last September — are a thing of the past. He is beginning to feel stronger and more comfortable, and had raised his average to .308 heading into Saturday's game.

"I lost a lot of playing time, and I told you before it's going to take awhile to get back in time," he said. "Right now, I'm feeling I'm seeing the ball a little better. I'm trying to put a good swing, trying to be calm at the plate. It seems like it's working right now.

"I feel stronger, obviously. Right now, my body feels good. That's very important for me to keep feeling better. I'm just going day by day, trying to do the little things I can do, and just trying to play my game. That's it."

Asked if he feels nearly ready to play every day, Gutierrez said, "Yeah, I think I'm getting to that point. We talk about it. Obviously, I'm still feeling some soreness and all that kind of stuff. But I'm getting to the point I'm feeling better with my legs, and that's the most important thing for me. As soon as I feel ready with my legs, I'm going to be ready to play every day."

Mostly, Gutierrez is happy to be healthy again.

"Right now, I'm not thinking about anything. I'm not thinking about injuries, I'm not thinking about nothing. Just trying to go out there, concentrate for the game, seeing the ball, put up good at-bats. It feels great to be back with my team again playing almost every day. It's a big relief for me to be here again."

Notes

• Mariners manager Eric Wedge dodged the question when asked who he thought should represent the club at the All-Star Game. "I'm always uncomfortable answering that for fear of offending somebody or leaving somebody out," he said. "I think we have a couple of guys that warrant consideration. I'm not going to name names. That's their call. If they should happen to call, I'll give my opinion.

"That's a tough job to pick those guys. They're always going to be leaving someone out worthy of going. It will be interesting to see."

• Wedge said Mike Carp, on the DL since June 12 with an inflamed right shoulder, will be re-evaluated when the team returns home Monday. "He's getting close to basically starting some baseball activity," he said.

Pitcher Stephen Pryor (strained left groin) "is a little further away. We'll evaluate him Monday as well. Hopefully, we can use that homestand and see how far he can come along. We'd like to see him possibly being able to go out and do something by the time we go back out on road."

• Asked whether Charlie Furbush, who has been dominating out of the bullpen, could possibly move back to a starting role, Wedge said, "Right now that's not even something we're considering. But it doesn't mean it won't ever happen."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @StoneLarry

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