Morse, Gutierrez keep Mariners going deep

Morse, Gutierrez keep Mariners going deep

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Michael Morse and Franklin Gutierrez hit home runs in the seventh inning of an 11-6 loss to the Royals on Tuesday as the Mariners continued rewriting the record book for homers this spring.

The two blasts, including a Morse monster shot that sailed over the 40-foot-high batter's eye in center field, extended the Mariners' club record to 54 home runs in 30 Cactus League games. No official Cactus League records are kept, but only one Major League team has hit more home runs in a spring since 2006, with the Royals totaling 56 in 36 games in 2009.

The Tigers hit 54 home runs in 32 games in 2006 in the Grapefruit League, and only two other teams have exceeded 50 in a spring in that span, with the Rangers at 52 in 29 games in '06 and the Brewers with 50 in '09.

Now Morse has seven home runs, one shy of the Mariners' individual record of eight by Mike Wilson in '09, with three spring games remaining. His blast was one of the few ever hit over the batter's eye in Peoria Stadium.

"He's a strong young man," manager Eric Wedge said. "For him to stay through that baseball and hit it that far, there's not a whole lot of people that can do that. The guy takes a lot of pride in his work and batting practice. He was working on some things today, particularly shooting the ball the other way. You saw that happen. And obviously staying through that ball, too, is impressive."

Wedge was equally pleased to see Gutierrez play the full game in center field and go 2-for-4 with three RBIs, a double and his fifth home run of the spring. Gutierrez has been slowed by soreness in his legs the past few weeks, but he is gearing toward Monday's opener in Oakland.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," Wedge said. "I've got him slated to be in the lineup again, and that will be a good test for him. He went nine innings today, so that was a good test. As you know, we've been very careful with him, and for good reason.

"He continues to say he's feeling better and is feeling a little more loose and free. I don't think he's to the point where he needs to be yet, but I think he's on the right track."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.