Franklin Gutierrez nearing minor league rehab games

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Franklin Gutierrez is finally making progress.

According to beat writer Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune, the 29-year-old center fielder will head to the Mariners’ spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona early this week to being taking at-bats and playing the field in extended spring training games.

Gutierrez will eventually progress to a minor league rehab assignment, and could join the M’s at some point in mid-June if he’s able to avoid more setbacks.

He’s been on the disabled list since the start of the regular season with a partially torn pectoral muscle and, more recently, plantar fasciitis in his heel. Gutierrez batted .224/.261/.273 in 92 games last season.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.