The Mariners recalled former Gold Glove outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from AAA Tacoma and inserted him into the starting lineup for Wednesday night’s third of three games against the defending American League champion Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field. The 32-year-old Gutierrez, slated to bat second and open in left, will appear in his first MLB contest since Sept. 27, 2013.
Gutierrez, who did not play last year as he convalesced from injuries, hit .317 with 34 runs scored, 12 doubles, seven home runs, 31 RBIs and a .902 OPS in 48 games with the Rainiers. He has played primarily in left (29 games) and also saw time as a designated hitter (18). Over his last 24 games (May 22-June 23), Gutierrez hit .333 with seven doubles, three home runs and 16 RBIs. He had a 20-game hitting streak May 22-June 17, batting .370.
The question with Gutierrez is durability. Scouts say he has had trouble playing consecutive games due to his previous injuries and ailments, and his outfield speed is diminished. But given the number of outfielders the Mariners have shuttled through left field, he may not need to play two in a row.
To make room for Gutierrez on the 25-man roster,the Mariners optioned OF James Jones back to Tacoma.
Gutierrez has appeared in 762 major league games with the Indians (2005-2008) and Mariners (2009-2013). In five seasons with Seattle, he hit .255 with 45 home runs and 194 RBIs. He was the 2010 American League Gold Glove winner for center fielders and set an American League record with 846 consecutive errorless chances from Aug. 21, 2009-Sept. 11, 2012. After playing in 305 games combined in 2009-2010, Gutierrez missed significant time on the disabled list from 2011-2013, appearing in 173 games.
Jones, 26, appeared in seven games with the Mariners after being recalled from AAA Tacoma June 15. He went 0-for-8 with a stolen base. In 48 games with Tacoma, he hit .264 with 29 runs, six doubles, four triples, one home run, 13 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
Roenis Elias (4-4, 3.56) will throw the series rubber game for Seattle opposite LHP Danny Duffy (2-3, 5.87).