A new and improved Guti plus news and notes

Jun 14, 2012, 1:07 AM | Updated: 10:22 am

By Shannon Drayer

It was a somewhat strange experience walking into the Mariners clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. I’ve walked in and seen multiple call-ups but I don’t think I have ever come in to see four returning players. Happy clubhouse to say the least.

It was great to see Franklin Gutierrez. We saw him in the clubhouse for a few days a couple of weeks ago but it was different. He was being checked out by the trainers and quietly went about his business and stayed mostly in the areas of the clubhouse off limits to the media. On Wednesday he was much more visible, and visibly happy to be back to play. For a guy who usually is very low key this was as close to giddy as I think he gets.

“I’m really happy to be here again with my team,” he said before the game. “I have been waiting for this for a long time. I am just ready to play again and that makes me happy. It means a lot to me to be here every day.”

Gutierrez has had a rough two years with the challenge to find the cause and the cure for his stomach issues last year and the injuries suffered this spring and the recent setbacks. Somehow he managed to keep his focus on getting back and not on his horrific bad luck.

“It has been a nightmare for me,” he told me. “Everyone knows what happened last year to me and this year I went into offseason and prepared my body to compete again. Things happen but it makes you stronger with your mind. I am trying to be positive in every aspect and take step by step every day.”

I asked what he has learned from this experience.

“It’s very important to be healthy and if you can do whatever it takes to be healthy, do it,” he answered. “If I have to get here early, do extra work, I am doing it. I feel great, I feel back to me. I am going harder every day, that’s where I am right now.”

News and notes: Gutierrez was not in the lineup Wednesday as it was a scheduled day off for him. When asked about how much he would be used, Eric Wedge answered, “He will be our center fielder. He is not going to play seven days a week. We are going to be careful with him. My goal is to keep him healthy.” Wedge went on to say that he was extremely pleased with what he has seen from Michael Saunders in center, but when Gutierrez is playing Saunders will be in left.

Erasmo Ramirez is back and will start Thursday in the game Kevin Millwood was originally scheduled to pitch. Millwood is now scheduled to start Saturday.

The Giants are coming to town this weekend and the Mariners will miss Matt Cain, who pitched a perfect game Wednesday. San Francisco will throw Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in the three games at Safeco Field.

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