SEATTLE -- A bit of baseball normalcy returned to the Mariners on Tuesday, and manager Eric Wedge couldn't help but smile about it. He got to pencil in the names "Michael Morse" and "Franklin Gutierrez" back into the lineup.
Morse, who leads the team with six home runs and is second with nine RBIs, missed the last three games after being hit on his right hand and suffering a non-displaced fracture of his pinkie against Texas on Thursday. Gutierrez, the center fielder who has four homers and a team-leading 10 RBIs, had not started the past three games because of leg soreness.
For Morse, the return comes at the low end of the team's expected window of three to seven days. The slugger, who was put in the cleanup spot for Tuesday night's game against Detroit, used Monday's off-day to work out and hit in the cage, and he said Tuesday he was pain-free. Gutierrez was put in at the leadoff spot in the continued absence of outfielder Michael Saunders, who's on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.
"I feel good," Morse said. "I do an overlapping grip, which helps me a lot. And it's my top hand and I'm a bottom-hand swinger, so maybe this is a good thing for me ... to stop using my top hand."
Morse said it's been difficult to sit out but he's glad he's returning so soon.
"I always tell people I'm a bad bench guy because I want to be in there so bad," Morse said. "We're starting to get a little chemistry together. ... It's so early in the season that anything can happen. I think we're still trying to find ourselves and I just want to be in there, to be a part of this team."
Morse said he didn't think the pinkie would bother him but wasn't sure how it would hold up to the intensity of game action.
"I'll know once I take a bad swing out there," he said.