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.
Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.
Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.
In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.
Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.
Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.
Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.