03/03/12 7:08 PM ET
Gutierrez optimistic about return from injury
Center fielder back at camp, expects to miss six weeks
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
Gutierrez, 29, was back at camp for the first time since feeling a sharp pain in his upper right chest while throwing the ball in Tuesday's workout. He won't be allowed to throw or swing a bat for at least a month, but said he's relieved the issue didn't require surgery that would have wiped out most of the season.
Gutierrez said he'll be able to run and work out in the gym once his arm is out of the sling sometime next week, so he'll be able to maintain his physical condition even while sidelined the next month. How soon he can return to game action depends on how the pectoral muscle heals, but even the best-case scenario figures to have him missing at least the first few weeks of the regular season.
For a guy who played just 92 games last year due to separate stints on the disabled list with a stomach illness and then a strained oblique, it was a tough blow after coming to camp in prime shape and having regained 20 pounds he'd lost in 2011.
"It's not easy, man," he said. "Obviously you don't want to get injured, but that's something you cannot control. You try to do your best out there and it's just one of those things that happen. I have to move forward and try to get better and be ready to help my team out at any point.
"I'm not frustrated right now. I'm trying to keep my mind positive. That can happen to anybody. I'm just focused on getting better."
Gutierrez had looked strong in his first days in camp and hit a home run in his first intrasquad game against Felix Hernandez, but injured himself simply throwing the ball into the infield on Tuesday.
"My first throw I felt something pop or strain," he said. "It was a weird feeling I'd never felt before. I tried doing a second throw, but I couldn't do it. So I just stopped."
When he was flying back to Seattle to have tests on the injury, he expected to learn he'd need surgery and possibly miss most of the season. So it was a relief to learn the tendon wasn't fully detached and would be allowed to heal on its own.
Gutierrez said he's not going to let this latest setback get him down.
"I'm very excited," he said. "When I got here I was very excited and I still have the same approach in my mind. I'm not going to let this thing hold me back. Obviously it'll hold me back for a couple weeks. But mentally I feel great. I know I'm going to get better."
Montero OK after early exit in spring opener
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jesus Montero was back at work Saturday, saying he's no worse for the wear after taking a pair of hard foul balls off his chin in the fifth inning of his Cactus League debut with the Mariners on Friday.
Montero, the 22-year-old catcher acquired from the Yankees in the Michael Pineda trade, was removed from the game after the second ball clipped him in virtually the same spot on back-to-back pitches.
"I'm fine now. It hit me right here," Montero said, pointing to the tip of his chin. "The manager said, 'You're not going to finish today because you did everything already and we're going to protect you. We don't want anything to happen to you.' So I said, 'OK.' Nothing happened though, thank God. Everything is good."
Montero had hit a home run in the top of that inning on a blast to deep right-center field. In his first at-bat, he drove a ball to the warning track in center and he reached base on an error and scored in the fourth.
"I got some pretty good at-bats yesterday," he said. "I hit the ball hard. That's what I was looking for. And at the end, I got a home run. That was a good pitch to hit and I hit it out."
Montero didn't play in Saturday's rematch against the A's at Peoria Stadium, as manager Eric Wedge went with almost an entirely different lineup after playing a lot of backups on Friday.
He'll get plenty of playing time this spring, however, as the Mariners look to develop him behind the plate. The youngster dropped a high foul ball behind the plate for an error on Friday, but atoned for that with his two-run blast an inning later.
Both his home run and the deep drive to center field in the first inning were hit to center and right-center, which was no coincidence for the right-hander.
"I'm thinking that way every single time. That's my approach," Montero said. "All the time I'm hitting, I'm trying to hit the ball to right field."
So even after getting popped in the chin and KO'd from his first Mariners game, the youngster said it was a good day.
"I hadn't played in a long time and yesterday was good," he said. "I was happy, excited, I was ready for everything. It was all good."
Noesi throws two scoreless innings in debut
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hector Noesi, the right-hander obtained from the Yankees in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade, looked good in his first appearance for the Mariners on Saturday with two innings of shutout ball in Seattle's 9-2 loss to the A's.
Noesi, 25, didn't allow a hit while striking out two and walking two. The Dominican native pitched primarily out of the bullpen last year for the Yankees, but is contending for a starting spot with Seattle.
"I felt great," Noesi said. "I just tried to work on some pitches that I have to work on."
Noesi was hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and only ran into trouble with two-out walks in each of his innings.
"My location was good today," he said. "But after two out, I think I took it easy trying to get the third out, but I left it open."
Noesi was a well-regarded starter coming up in the Yankees system and said he's eager to get back to that situation, if possible.
"It doesn't take that long," he said. "You have to work. I've been working in the Dominican Republic to be a starter. I've always been a starter and I love that."
It appears very likely he'll get that shot with the Mariners as they like what they're seeing.
"He threw the ball well and easy," manager Eric Wedge said. "He commanded the baseball down. His stuff looked good. He was impressive. He has a lot of life [on his fastball] and he has some presence about him out there as well."
Peguero showcasing power early in spring
PEORIA, Ariz. -- At 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Carlos Peguero isn't hard to spot on the baseball diamond. And the big youngster has made a quick impression in Cactus League play with home runs in back-to-back games for the Mariners.
Power has never been a question for Peguero, 25, who hit 54 home runs in the Minor Leagues in 2009-10. He had six long balls in 46 games for Seattle last year as a rookie, but batted just .196 and struck out 54 times in 143 at-bats.
It's obviously early this spring, but he's 2-for-5 with one strikeout and the two home runs, including a massive shot in Friday's opener.
"He's really been working hard," manager Eric Wedge said. "[Hitting coach] Chris Chambliss and he have been working to slow down his lower half and give him a better chance to utilize his hands and his strength with his swing. He's such a powerful young man.
"We've seen the undisciplined approach," Wedge said. "I think what we're starting to see hopefully is a more-disciplined approach to where he slows himself down and sees the baseball better. Because really it's just about pitch selection with him.
"When he slows himself down, not just fundamentally but mentally, too, then he sees the ball well. And when he hits it, he does damage."
• Jason Vargas gets the start for the Mariners on Sunday and Hisashi Iwakuma debuts Monday, both games against the Padres in Peoria. Felix Hernandez, who will be the Opening Day starter, then makes his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against the Reds in Peoria.
• Veteran left-handed reliever George Sherrill, who has been brought along slowly this spring, is scheduled to make his first appearance on Monday out of the bullpen. Sherrill is the only Mariners veteran who didn't play in any of the four intrasquad games.
• Former Mariners second baseman Harold Reynolds was in camp Saturday with his MLB Network crew doing interviews. Jay Buhner also joined former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. in camp as both are offering their help to young players. Buhner suited up and was with the team in the morning workout and in the dugout during Saturday's game.