SEATTLE -- Franklin Gutierrez would love to play baseball -- in a real game, at the Major League level. But injury after injury has put the Mariners outfielder on the bench more than the field since the start of the 2011 season.
Gutierrez is hopeful that he is finally in the last stage of recovery from his latest injury, plantar fasciitis, and will be able to rejoin the Mariners in the near future. But first, he'll need to successfully resume all baseball activities. That process started Tuesday, when Gutierrez took batting practice with the team prior to its game with the Rangers. The plan is for him to begin running Wednesday.
"I'm feeling more healthy, I guess, because of the rest that I've been having," said Gutierrez, who has been rehabbing in Seattle for about 15 days. "Been doing some treatment, a lot of stuff to get better. Today, I'm going to practice with the team. I'm not going to run, I'm just going to hit -- it's pretty good to be here with the team.
"Tomorrow is when I get my first day moving around and see how my foot feels, and depending on how it feels tomorrow, we're going to go from there. Right now, it feels pretty good, so let's see what happens when I run."
Gutierrez, who won a Gold Glove Award in 2010 in his second season with the Mariners, played in just 92 games in 2011 while dealing with irritable bowel syndrome. He then partially tore his right pectoral in February, which kept him out of the start of this season. While rehabbing that injury, Gutierrez developed plantar fasciitis, which has delayed his comeback.
"So [much] time out right now, the last two years have been really tough for me, but I'm working hard trying to get healthy and just be here for the team," Gutierrez said. "Imagine two years without being healthy at all. Right now, I've been hitting, I've been throwing, doing my workouts in the gym and trying to be in shape."
"We're hoping to get him out at the end of the week, get him down to Arizona to play a few games and if all goes well, get him out to rehab," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He just needs to stay healthy, nothing more and nothing less. It's been all about the heel for the last two or three weeks. He's been throwing fine, he's been hitting fine, so it's just about him being able to move around and that heel not giving him any problems."