SEATTLE — Seattle made a roster move just before batting practice in activating outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from the disabled list and designating pitcher Aaron Harang for assignment.
With the Mariners facing three left-handed starting pitchers in three days, manager Eric Wedge wanted an extra right-handed bat available.
Gutierrez was in the clubhouse stretching and was in Monday’s starting lineup batting third and playing right field.
“It feels good to be back again,” Gutierrez said. “It’s been a long time. I’m really happy I’m coming back to help my team.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s basically the same thing he said the previous two times he returned to the Mariners after injury absences.
Gutierrez was placed on the disabled list twice this season — with a strained right hamstring from May 16-June 2 and June 24 until Monday. His time on the disabled list included four rehabilitation assignments to Triple A-Tacoma. He has played more rehab games with the Rainiers (47) than major league games with the M’s (18).
So what makes this time different? Is there reason to think he will stay any healthier this time? The Mariners hope this return lasts longer than the 48 hours it took for him to get hurt the last time he came off the disabled list.
Gutierrez thinks this time around could be different because it’s been almost three months since he was diagnosed with a genetic disease that causes a person to develop arthritis in the back. He has been taking medication to fight it.
“This thing started in spring training and they didn’t know what it is,” he said. “It’s tough to play like that. Not many people know about this, but I’ve been dealing with this the whole year.”
It made playing on a daily basis difficult.
“Feeling that inflammation in the pelvis and lower back and (trying) to run like that, it’s not easy,” he said. “Right now, I feel like it’s under control. I’ve got three months with the medicine. The healing process has been slow, but good. I’m feeling much better. I don’t have as much pain.”
Gutierrez isn’t sure that he can play every day now. He didn’t on his latest rehab stint with Tacoma.
“I’ve been playing two days in a row and then have a day off,” he said. “I’ve been playing like that and I’ve been feeling much better that way than playing every day. ”
It’s unlikely that Wedge will even consider playing him daily.
“Like I told him today, ‘We’ll communicate every day with regard to how you are feeling and just how much we’ll be able to play and we’ll go from there,’ ” Wedge said.
With Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Endy Chavez, Raul Ibañez and Michael Morse on the roster, Wedge isn’t held hostage by Gutierrez’s health.
“We’ve got enough options out there right now,” he said. “It’s a bit of a traffic jam. We’ll continue to put our best lineup out there.”
Harang, 35, compiled a 5-11 record with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts.
“I had some inconsistencies that I have to work on,” Harang said. “I know I can still pitch at this level. I’m not worried about that part. It’s just making sure I figure out the little things and make those adjustments. I will get my stuff together, head home, keep working out and hopefully hook on with somebody soon.”
Seattle now has 10 days to trade, release or outright of Harang to the minors.
“It’s part of the game,” Harang said. “I’ve been around this long enough and seen it enough times. Fortunately, this was the first time I’ve actually been told face to face that I’ve been designated. It’s a little tougher than I expected.”
Wedge said the Mariners are still making a decision as to who might the spot in the rotation.
The series continues 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field, with Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.98 ERA) opposing Rangers left-hander Derek Holland (9-6, 2.95 ERA). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.