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Gutierrez still in time share in center field

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SEATTLE -- Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez played in all seven of the team's games on its season-opening road trip, but in two of those he came off the bench for one at-bat and to play defense in the later innings.

Gutierrez is off to a good start, hitting .304 with two home runs and six RBIs going into Monday's home opener, but manager Eric Wedge said he's still not ready to commit to starting the 30-year-old every day due to his history of health issues.

Gutierrez played just 40 games last season and 92 in 2011. When will he get the full go this season?

"I can't give you a straight definition with it, but it's watching him play and having conversations," said Wedge. "I do feel like he's moving around better and getting better. I think we're on a good path right now.

"I don't want to get complacent with it. I want to make sure we take care of him. It's evident we're a better ballclub when he's in the lineup. But as you guys have seen, he hasn't done a whole lot of that in the last 2 1/2 years. So we want to be smart with it."

Gutierrez was in the lineup on Monday, batting second behind Michael Saunders. That's the top of the order Wedge will go with against right-handed starters, with the two flip-flopping against lefties.

But Wedge will also work Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez into the lineup at times to keep them sharp and to keep Gutierrez fresh.

"We have other players we feel can help us win ballgames," said Wedge. "So we'll keep moving forward with it and when it's time to push it a little more, that's what we'll do."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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