SEATTLE — John Jaso isn’t about to summon up any Sampson comparisons, but the fact that he’s able to keep a beard this season has contributed to his happiness in Seattle, he said.
“A year ago, I couldn’t grow one, that’s just how it was,” he said of his time in Tampa Bay. “It’s probably that way with a lot of teams and managers. They treat everyone as if we’re all alike.
“I didn’t like taking early hitting in the cages — I though it hurt me more than helped me, but that’s what we were told to do.”
With the Seattle Mariners, Jaso and his teammates have carte blanche with facial hair. Manager Eric Wedge has never had hair policies, and a year ago he grew a moustache that is still talked about.
On this team, there are any number of varieties of facial hair. Dustin Ackley, Casper Wells, Tom Wilhelmsen, Brendan Ryan, Charlie Furbush have all had some form of beard during the 2012 season.
Jaso, however, has the most fully-grown beard.
“My fiancé likes it,” he deadpanned. “She knows on the road no woman would be interested in a guy with a beard like this.”
Gutierrez begins rehab assignment
Franklin Gutierrez, hit in the head by an errant pickoff throw back on June 28, began a 20-game rehabilitation assignment with the Tacoma Rainiers on Saturday.
Best case scenario, it appears, is Gutierrez could be ready to rejoin the Mariners when rosters expand on Sept. 1. He is, at last, apparently over the last of his lingering concussion symptoms.
“We don’t’ have a timetable for Franklin,” manager Wedge said. “A change in medication got rid of his headaches, and he’s ready to play baseball again. It’s been a long time, so we don’t know what to expect.”
Catchers going deep
The Mariners began their game Saturday with 101 home runs, or 26 more than the team had a year ago through 120 games. Much of that improvement has come from behind the plate.
Catchers Jesus Montero (8), Miguel Olivo (8) and John Jaso (5) have combined for 21 home runs at the position.
That’s one short of the team single season record (22) set in 2000, with Joe Oliver (10), Tom Lampkin (6), Dan Wilson (5) and Roberto Machado (1).
Toss in their starts at designated hitter, and Montero, Olivo and Jaso have combined for 29 home runs in 2012.
Throwing out the first pitch Saturday was former Mariners right-hander Bob Wolcott, who made his major league debut 17 years ago Saturday. Feel old yet? … Tom Wilhelmsen, a proud father for the past 10 days, showed up a bit bleary-eyed Saturday. “For the first time, the baby didn’t sleep last night,” he said. … Former Mariners reliever Jeff Gray, who appeared in 24 games with Seattle in 2011, has thus far been in 45 with the Twins in 2012. He’s been something of a good luck charm/vulture out of the bullpen — going 6-1 with a 5.13 earned run average.