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Gutierrez returns to Mariners lineup

Gutierrez returns to Mariners lineup

ARLINGTON - After starting just two of the previous seven games due to soreness in his legs, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was back in the Mariners lineup for Saturday night's game with the Rangers.

Gutierrez has played well when he's been able to get on the field, hitting .255 with four home runs and a share of the team lead with 10 RBIs. His .574 slugging percentage is second only to the .579 by Michael Morse going into Saturday's action.

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But health has been an issue for the 2010 Gold Glove outfielder for the past 2 1/2 seasons, and his latest difficulty is the leg problems that cropped up in Spring Training and continue to flare.

"He said he feels pretty good, so we got him back in there and we'll see how it goes," said manager Eric Wedge. "Hopefully he'll have a good day."

As for the longer term?

"We do have to just take it game by game right now and try to get him over the hump," Wedge said. "He's working on his lower half every day and trying to get better with it, but it is what it is."

Michael Saunders is getting closer to returning, which would give Wedge another center-field option. Saunders took another step Saturday by taking full batting practice, after doing some early hitting Friday. He said he remains hopeful to come off the disabled list when he's eligible to return next Friday.

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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