By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — It was a little easier for Seattle manager Eric Wedge when he sat down to write out the Mariners’ starting lineup before Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers.
This time he actually had the luxury choices.
Wedge was able to pencil in both Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse into the lineup for the first time in three games.
The two opening day starting outfielders have been battling injuries that have kept them out of action. Gutierrez was sidelined with tight hamstrings. It’s something he’s battled off and on since spring training. Morse suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right pinky after getting hit by a pitch on Thursday against the Texas Rangers.
“It’s good to get both of them back in there,” Wedge said.
Morse’s finger is still a little swollen and discolored, but he wanted to play.
“I asked the doctors is there any way I can hurt this more, and the only way is if a ball hits it again, so I will just have to get out of the way,” Morse said.
Morse had the finger heavily taped pregame before batting practice. But he did a workout on the off day on Monday, including hitting in the cage.
Some people may not notice, but Morse actually hits with the pinky finger on his right hand overlapping his bottom hand on the bat, similar to a golf grip.
“I’ve always done that,” Morse said. “I just do it. I feel weird if a grip it the other way.”
Morse believes that by hitting like that it may have actually made the fracture in the pinky a little less severe when it was hit by a 95 mph fastball from Tanner Scheppers. The finger didn’t smashed between the ball and the bat.
Morse didn’t wear a protective guard or do anything more to it for the game. “I’m fine just the way it is,” he said. “It’s good.”
Morse had to play on Tuesday. He couldn’t take another day of watching from the bench.
“I always tell people I’m a bad bench guy because I want to be in there so much,” he said. “I just want to be in there.”
One person who wasn’t in the lineup was Jesus Montero, and it wasn’t because of injury. The young catcher has now sat three of the last four games in favor of veteran Kelly Shoppach.
Is Montero working on something specific before he gets back on the field?
“It’s just overall,” Wedge said. “I’m trying to give him a little bit of space as well. I like what Shoppach has been doing back there and I like matching him up with Aaron (Harang) in his first start tonight. I think that’s important. There’s different things with each day. He’s (Montero) still working to be the overall things he needs to be. And I think if you give him a couple days here and there, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing this early in the year.”
Medina called up
The Mariners made a roster move, calling up right-hander Yoervis Medina from Class AAA Tacoma to take Stephen Pryor’s spot in the bullpen.
The Mariners put Pryor on the 15-day disabled list on Monday. He suffered a torn right lattismus dorsi in Sunday’s win over the Rangers.
How bad is the injury?
“We are going to have to see when it calms down,” Wedge said. “It’s substantial. How long is he going to be out? We really don’t know yet. Obviously long enough to be placed on the DL. But you are probably looking beyond those two weeks.”
Pryor was in relatively good spirits considering.
“At least I don’t have to have surgery,” he said.
Medina is making his first appearance in the big leagues. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005.
The 24-year-old reliever was 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA — one earned run in six innings pitched — in four relief appearances with the Rainiers.
He has a fastball that touches 95 and also has a slider and changeup.
“He made an impression on us this spring and even more of an impression this winter with how we pitched,” Wedge said. “He will be ready to pitch tonight and obviously we will keep a close eye on him with it being his first time.”
Medina got the call from manager Daren Brown at his apartment in Tacoma.
“He said, ‘you are going to the big leagues!’” Medina said.
Medina, a native of Venezuela, immediately called family and friends back home.
“My mom told me it was a good opportunity,” Medina said. “She said it was important for me to believe in me in my time here.”