05/12/2013 3:17 PM ET
Wedge: Gutierrez needs to be at full strength to return
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Franklin Gutierrez could be ready to start a Minor League rehab assignment by the end of the upcoming week, but manager Eric Wedge said Sunday he won't bring the veteran center fielder back to the Mariners until he proves ready to play every day.
Gutierrez has played only 148 of Seattle's 361 games since 2011 due to five different stints on the disabled list with a variety of ailments. He's currently out with a hamstring injury and has begun taking batting practice and running the bases.
But Wedge said he's not going to play the half-in game with Gutierrez anymore and needs to see him at full strength before he returns.
"I'm hoping we can start [a Minor League rehab stint] at the end of the week," Wedge said. "But I'm not looking for him to come back just to be OK to play. We've done that and it hasn't worked. When he comes back, he's got to be ready to go. So we'll let that dictate how long it takes."
And that means seeing Gutierrez play day after day at Triple-A Tacoma or elsewhere, whatever it takes.
"It has to be for me," Wedge said. "The other way doesn't work. It hasn't worked. For three years. So he's going to have to be able to come here and play. I need to see him play every day."
Seager shifts down to bat third as Wedge adjusts order
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge had Kyle Seager third in the batting order for Sunday's series finale against the A's and indicated the young third baseman could see more of that going forward as he looks to find the right lineup mix.
Seager has been hitting second most of the season, but Wedge hopes the move helps alleviate some of the pressure felt by designated hitter Kendrys Morales and right fielder Michael Morse, who he dropped down to the four and five spots, respectively, for the first time. Jason Bay batted second on Sunday for the Mariners.
"I'm playing around with it a little bit," Wedge said. "I still stand by the fact that Morales and Morse are just trying to do too much. They know they're the guys here and I think with that sometimes you put a little too much pressure on yourself to do too much. You see both of them chasing more than they should.
"And Kyle is a very mature young hitter. We've seen that. The reality is he's probably more than [just a two-hole hitter]. And I trust him. There's not too much we can give him that he can't handle and he's already proven that."
Seager hit third in 69 games last season when he led the team in home runs and RBIs, but the feeling this year was that the new offensive additions would allow him to move into a new role. As it's played out, however, Wedge sees Seager's versatility and ability to handle that kind of role as being helpful now in sorting things out for the new power hitters as they find their own comfort levels.
"I look at him as either a two- or three-hole hitter," Wedge said. "It just takes some time to figure out what everyone ultimately is going to be. With Morales and Morse, they're they keys. Once we figure out where they belong, we can work everybody else off that.
"When you bring somebody over here and they're the guy, it's a little different for them. Kendrys is so good, the on-base percentage, he's going to hit. He's going to be fine in the end. But ultimately we need to be able to count on him every day. So it's a matter of who works off who better. Morse-Morales? Morales-Morse? How does Seager play into that? How does [Justin] Smoak play into that? We have to figure all that out."
Ryan's role remains secure despite hitting woes
SEATTLE -- While Brendan Ryan has continued to struggle offensively and his batting average had dropped to .128 going into Sunday's series finale with the A's, manager Eric Wedge said he's not giving up on the veteran shortstop.
While Ryan has seen shared playing time the last few weeks with Robert Andino, Wedge said there's no reason to think he's nearing the end of his rope with the 31-year-old defensive wizard.
"I just think once we get everybody else going, he'll come along and be better himself," Wedge said. "The difference he makes is real. But he's not the difference between us being a good offensive club and not. That's where people put their focus in the wrong direction.
"He's not going to be the difference maker [offensively]. The difference maker is everybody else. He needs to be a contributor. But where he's a difference maker is defensively. And when you have players who are difference makers, you keep them. Whether it be offensively, defensively, on the basepaths, starting pitching, bullpen, whatever it may be. He's a difference maker defensively. We need everybody else offensively to do their job and for him to be a contributor."