NEW YORK -- Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez began a Minor League injury rehab assignment Thursday night as the designated hitter for Triple-A Tacoma, which hosted Memphis to start an eight-game homestand.
Gutierrez is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring that occurred on April 22 in Houston. That's the latest in a series of injuries that have plagued the 30-year-old the past three seasons, which is why manager Eric Wedge said he'll need to see more from Gutierrez in this rehab stint before bringing him back.
Position players can be kept on a rehab assignment as long as 20 days before they have to either be recalled or kept on the disabled list without playing.
"He has to play," Wedge said. "I'm not looking for him just to be to the point where he can play up here. He's got to be further than that so we can count on him. I don't know what 100 percent is anymore. I don't think there is 100 percent. But he's got to be further along than he has been in the past before he comes back.
"I can't put a timetable on it. It's a combination of what they see -- the managers, trainers, coaches and the conversations we have with him, too. He's on rehab, 20 days for a position player, so we'll see how long it takes. He feels good, and it's good to get him back out there. And of course we want him back, but we want to know we can count on him, too."
Gutierrez was hitting .259 with four home runs and 10 RBIs while leading off for the Mariners for 16 games. But he's now missed 18 games after playing just 40 games last season and 92 in 2011.
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.