Franklin Gutierrez making progress, takes 25 swings

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Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez took a significant step forward Thursday in his ongoing recovery from a torn left pectoral muscle, swinging a bat through the air 25 times without discomfort.

This according to 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer.

Gutierrez had been limited this week to pool workouts, but he reported feeling strong when he arrived at Mariners camp on Thursday morning and was allowed to progress to dry-land swinging. M’s head trainer Rick Griffin was impressed with the results:

“It went well,” Griffin told Drayer on Thursday night. “You could tell he was a little hesitant at first, he thought he might feel it (pectoral muscle) but about half way through he let go and took a good swing and said it felt great.”

Gutierrez is expected to be ready to make his regular-season debut by the end of April. The 29-year-old batted just .224/.261/.273 in 344 plate appearances last year while fighting oblique and stomach issues.

Shelby Miller will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Last we heard from Shelby Miller, the Diamondbacks’ right-hander was contemplating Tommy John surgery for a partial UCL tear in his right elbow. Now, he appears to have decided to go through with the procedure.

Miller decided to skip Tommy John alternatives like plasma-rich platelet injections or stem cell treatment, which have been used to varying degrees of success by other major league pitchers with similar injuries. The surgery will set him back an estimated 12-18 months, FanRag Sports’ Tommy Stokke reports, which puts Miller’s estimated return date somewhere in 2018 if all goes well.

The 26-year-old starter was off to a rocky start this season, posting a 2-2 record and 4.09 ERA through 22 innings and striking out just 20 of 99 batters faced. This was his sophomore campaign in Arizona after muddling through the 2016 season with a 3-12 record, 6.15 ERA and 0.5 fWAR over 101 innings with the club.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.