Seattle Mariners

Gutierrez says he’s ‘doing great’ in managing his health

Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners hits a three-run home run in the third inning Sunday at Boston. He is batting .313 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 31 games since his June 24 arrival from Triple-A Tacoma.
Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners hits a three-run home run in the third inning Sunday at Boston. He is batting .313 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 31 games since his June 24 arrival from Triple-A Tacoma. The Associated Press

BOSTON — Back in the big leagues, Seattle Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez is having the time of his life even if it comes sliced these days in bite-size pieces as he continues to deal with health issues.

“I’m doing great, man,” Gutierrez said Sunday after hitting two homers and helping the Mariners escape a rough weekend at Fenway Park with a 10-8 victory in 12 innings.

“Every time I come here and prepare myself, even if I’m not playing, just prepare myself to be ready in any situation of the game. That’s it, man. I’m just enjoying being here again.”

Gutierrez exited Sunday’s game after seven innings, which prompted the unending question: Did it have anything to do with his ongoing battle with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine?

The answer: Somewhat.

“Guti is OK,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said, “but you’ve got to manage it. You want him to play (Monday). All the factors that are involved. It’s hot out. A lot of running today.

“We thought we had a safe-enough lead that we could get him out of there and get him rested. Get him hydrated again, and he’ll be ready to go again (Monday).”

As it turned out, the 8-6 lead at the time wasn’t safe enough. Even so, Gutierrez, 32, said he understands the concern.

“I was fine,” he said. “He took me out, I guess, because (Monday) we’re facing another lefty. I just want to prepare for (Monday), too.”

And Gutierrez admits the rest helps: “It gives you time to feel better.”

When he does play, Gutierrez is producing: He is batting .313 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 31 games since his June 24 arrival from Triple-A Tacoma, where he honed his skills after sitting out all of last season.

Gutierrez’s two homers Sunday were to center field and right field.

“It is a good sign, man,” he said, “because most of the pitchers, they throw away. When you start hitting the ball all over the place, it’s great for me as a hitter. I guess because I’ve gained a little more weight, I’m stronger now.”

FURBUSH BACK IN SEATTLE

Reliever Charlie Furbush’s recovery from biceps tendinitis is on hold until the Mariners learn the reason for his continuing soreness.

Furbush returned to Seattle after continuing to experience discomfort Saturday during a pregame bullpen workout at Fenway Park. Club officials had hoped he’d be ready to depart on a minor-league rehab assignment.

“We’re sending him back to Seattle to see the doctor again,” McClendon said. “It just wasn’t a good bullpen. We decided to send him back and let the doctor do his thing, evaluate and do whatever they have to do.

“We should know more on Wednesday.”

Furbush hasn’t pitched since July 7. He was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 33 games when placed on the disabled list for what, at the time, was viewed as a minor problem.

STILL STREAKING

Nelson Cruz’s hitting streak ended Friday at a career-best 21 games, but he’s now up to 27 consecutive games of reaching base safely after hitting a homer in the seventh inning Sunday.

Cruz’s streak, a career best, is the longest current streak in the majors and matches the longest streak this season in the American League. Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera had a 27-game streak earlier in the season.

Cruz is batting .372 in his 27-game surge, with 15 homers and 21 RBIs. His previous best reaching-safely streak was 25 games from July 8 to Aug. 7 in 2010 while playing for Texas.

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT

More perspective on how bad it was for the Mariners in the first two games of the Boston series — losses of 15-1 on Friday and 22-10 on Saturday:

Yes, the Mariners set club records for runs (22) and hits (26) allowed in Saturday’s loss. And the two-game totals also were the worst in franchise history.

Further digging reveals that the Mariners are the first team to allow 11 extra-base hits in back-to-back games since 1914.

They also were the first team to allow 15 runs in back-to-back games since Texas in 2008 in home losses on Sept. 17 (17-4 to Detroit) and Sept. 19 (15-13 to the Los Angeles Angels).

PITCHING WOES

Friday and Saturday marked a low point, but the Mariners have hemorrhaged runs since the All-Star break: a 5.37 ERA in 29 games.

It’s been bad on both ends, too.

The rotation has a 5.38 ERA, and the bullpen has a 5.35 ERA.

And now they head to Texas, which is averaging 5.5 runs a game since the break. That leads the majors in that span.

MINOR DETAILS

Single-A Everett shortstop Drew Jackson extended his hitting streak to 20 games Saturday by going 1 for 3 with two walks in a 4-3 loss at Eugene (Cubs).

The Northwest League record is 26 games. It was set by Gary Johnson at Tri-City (independent) in 1962 and matched by Anthony Laurenzi at Medford (Athletics) in 1982.

Jackson, 22, was the Mariners’ fifth-round pick in the June draft. He is batting .396 in 42 games, including .513 (41 for 80) in his hitting streak.

LOOKING BACK

It was 18 years ago — Aug. 17, 1997 — that Jay Buhner became the first Mariners player to hit 30 homers in three consecutive seasons when he went deep in the eighth inning in a 5-3 victory at Chicago.

Buhner’s homer came against White Sox right-hander Jaime Navarro, who currently is the pitching coach at Triple-A Tacoma.

Later that year, Buhner became the first Mariners player to hit 40 homers in three consecutive seasons.

SHORT HOPS

On Sunday, the Mariners reached double figures in runs in back-to-back games for the first time since June 30-July 1, 2014, at Houston in 10-4 and 13-2 victories. … Austin Jackson has five conseutive multihit games after going 2 for 4. … The Mariners hit back-to-back homers for the seventh time this season when Robinson Cano and Gutierrez did it in the first inning. That leads the majors. … The Mariners have homers in 14 consecutive road games, which is tied for the second-longest streak in club history. They had a 17-game run in 1994 and a 14-game run in 1999. … Cruz has 15 homers in his last 24 games.

ON TAP

The Mariners open a three-game series against the Rangers at 5:05 p.m. PDT Monday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

Seattle right-hander Taijuan Walker (8-7, 4.60) will face Texas lefty Cole Hamels (0-1, 5.93). Hamels missed his last turn in the rotation because of a strained left groin.

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

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