Gutierrez forging ahead despite 'flashbacks'

Gutierrez forging ahead despite 'flashbacks'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Franklin Gutierrez acknowledged it was a little tough being on first base with Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks throwing over several times in his return to the lineup on Monday, given the memory of how he got a concussion two months earlier.

When Hendriks threw over the first time, Gutierrez put his hands up over his head in a protective fashion, remembering how he took a pickoff throw off the side of his face from Boston's Franklin Morales on June 28.

But then Gutierrez proceeded to steal two bases during the game against Hendriks, forging ahead even after he got hit in the hand with a pitch in the sixth inning -- another difficult moment for the oft-injured outfielder.

"Oh my God. Every time he was throwing over, I was having flashbacks," Gutierrez said. "I think it's going to take time. Every time I was remembering what happened. It's going to take a while for me to forget about it. So every time I go to first base you're going to see me trying to protect my face and whatever I can."

And yet, Gutierrez is declining to wear a double-flap batting helmet the Mariners have for him.

"No, I don't want to do that," he said. "I just don't feel comfortable with that. Maybe some day I will wear it again, but not for now."

"Maybe I'll suggest an invisible flap on one side so he can still look cool," manager Eric Wedge said with a chuckle. "I don't know. But I think that was pretty evident to everybody. It's human nature. The guy got clipped pretty good over there and missed a lot of time. But the flip side of it, he stole a couple bases and didn't have any fear of getting back out there and pushing the envelope a little."

Gutierrez made an instant impact for the Mariners in his first game back, going 1-for-2 with a walk, a hit by pitch, two stolen bases and an excellent catch of a deep drive by Trevor Plouffe at the top of the fence.

"He was all out, and you could tell he was excited to be back here playing," said Wedge. "He was comfortable, he was aggressive, his teammates embraced him being back. It was all positive."