UPDATE: Per Rebecca Hale, it sounds like Gutierrez heading to Cheney might not be as certain as was earlier implied. More info as it comes available.
It sounds as though the Mariners are going to give CF Franklin Gutierrez his rehab assignment, sending him to Tacoma this weekend to see how well his recovery from his latest bout with his mysterious stomach ailment is going. Gutierrez will play three games with the Rainiers, then the M’s staff will assess his progress and make further decisions from there.
The move makes sense from several different angles. First and foremost, the Rainiers are currently without two of their outfielders, including Greg Halman, the only one capable of playing center field on a regular basis at a decent level. Gutierrez can fill that hole for them while they decide how best to fill it, be it by promoting someone from Jackson (though there’s no clear “ready” candidate there right now), or by sending down one of Michael Saunders or Ryan Langerhans (though he would have to pass through waivers and agree to the assignment) once Gutierrez is deemed healthy.
The move will also serve as a nice attraction for Rainiers fans as they visit the newly-renovated Cheney Stadium for the first time this weekend. Adding a center fielder with sparkling defense to a sparkling new stadium certainly doesn’t hurt the opening festivities at all. It’ll also allow the Mariners’ Seattle-based medical staff to keep a closer eye on him than they would if he were in Jackson or High Desert.
Hopefully Guti is nearly ready to return for Seattle. Saunders and Langerhans have played well, and Milton Bradley has looked good at the plate too (although his defense in left field is questionable). That said, the M’s could really use his presence in the outfield and the lineup, and fans everywhere are eagerly awaiting his return to health.
There’s been no word yet on when and where David Aardsma will have his rehab outings. Once we know, we’ll bring you the info.