SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners have called up outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from Triple-A Tacoma, nearly two years after he last played in a major league game.
Seattle made the roster move on Wednesday and optioned James Jones to Tacoma. Gutierrez was in the starting lineup and playing left field for the Mariners in their series finale against Kansas City.
Gutierrez, 32, last played in the majors in September 2013 and sat out all of last season. The former Gold Glove winning outfielder has been injury prone through his Seattle career and was slowed in recent seasons by stomach issues. . He also dealt with pain in his joints. Between 2011 and 2013, Gutierrez appeared in just 173 games for Seattle.
"This means a lot, I'm telling you," said Gutierrez, who was in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. "Last year I did not play at all. I just signed a minor league contract (this year). There's a lot of things going on. I'm here again. I just want to help my team."
Gutierrez was thriving at Triple-A this season, hitting .317 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 48 games.
Seattle acquired Gutierrez from Cleveland in Seattle in a three-team, 12-player trade before the 2009 season. He was injury-free in his first two seasons, hitting .283 in 2009 and .245 in 2010 and combined for 30 home runs and 134 RBIs. He then developed various injuries, strained oblique, concussion, torn pectoral muscle along with his on-going intestinal issues. He played 92 games in 2011 and just 40 in 2012.
The Mariners allowed him to become a free agent last season and he used that year to recover and strengthen his body.
"I thought about it (quitting)," he said. "This is more on the side of proving to myself I could come back and play again. This is a huge accomplishment for me today, I telling you."
He credits his family — his wife, parents and sister — with supporting him and keeping him focused on his goal.
"The key for me was not to think about it (health)," Gutierrez said. "I was focused on what I needed to do and let them make a decision."
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he will use the right-handed hitter in a platoon situation against left-handers.
"We're going to face several left-handers," McClendon said. "The opportunity to manipulate our roster and bring in some pieces in that can help you, I think it's the right thing to do."