Aardsma set to make first mound appearance
Mariners' injured closer to pitch Tuesday for Triple-A Tacoma
SEATTLE -- Mariners closer David Aardsma, returning from hip labrum surgery performed in early January, is scheduled to make his first mound appearance since last season Tuesday for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
Aardsma is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list as soon as he's ready, but manager Eric Wedge said he'll likely need three or four Minor League outings to determine his availability.
The 29-year-old had 69 saves for Seattle over the past two seasons. Hopes for a two-inning simulated game effort in Kansas City over the weekend were postponed by bad weather, so Aardsma threw in the bullpen in Kauffman Stadium on Saturday and had a session of long toss in the outfield on Monday at Safeco Field.
"Assuming everything goes well today, we'll send him to Tacoma tomorrow and take it from there," Wedge said. "He'll probably need 3-4 outings, somewhere in that time frame. But that's always subject to change. We have to see how tomorrow goes, first time out, and go from there."
Wedge said he wouldn't be used initially in a closer's role in Tacoma, nor will he be brought out to start the first inning, as some clubs do so they can control the warmup situation for rehabbing relievers.
"He'll come in later," Wedge said. "I don't think he wants to do that, and it's better for him to be sitting out there, get that adrenaline kick and go out and pitch."
Brandon League has held down the Mariners' closer role so far this season, going 3-for-3 in save situations and posting a 4.76 ERA in six appearances.
Gutierrez heading to clinic for stomach issue
SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez will be sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Tuesday as the club continues searching for answers to the troublesome stomach illness that has sidelined him since March 19.
Gutierrez, on the 15-day disabled list, worked out with the Mariners for three days last week and then headed to California over the weekend with the hope of beginning a Minor League rehabilitation assignment with the High Desert Mavericks.
But the digestive tract trouble that has plagued him returned before he could get back on the field, and the Mariners decided further steps need to be taken before he's cleared to play.
"Franklin is going to go to the Mayo Clinic tomorrow and get looked at up there," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "We don't have anything scheduled for him beyond that."
Gutierrez began having difficulties with his stomach midway through last season. He went on to win his first American League Gold Glove Award, though his offensive numbers tailed off in the second half.
The 28-year-old played just nine Cactus League games this spring before the club decided further tests were necessary. Gutierrez said last week he'd lost 15 pounds, but at that time, he was feeling better and able to eat normally again.
That changed in the interim, and the club will look to the Mayo Clinic for answers.
Raburn's popup first to hit roof in Safeco history
SEATTLE -- Tigers outfielder Ryan Raburn hit his way into the history books during Monday's game with the Mariners, an 8-3 Seattle loss. He became the first player ever to hit a ball off Safeco Field's retractable roof.
The first-inning popup went straight up and kept going as it wandered over foul territory near the third-base dugout. The ball seemed headed toward the seats until it hit the roof, which redirected it back into the field of play. It fell between catcher Miguel Olivo and third baseman Chone Figgins, neither of whom could make the adjustment in time to have a play.
According to Mariners media relations, the roof height is officially listed at 217 feet at its highest point, in the middle. However, the trusses that support the roof sit lower, as much as 50 feet in some places. Raburn's ball hit one of the trusses on the side. The estimation from the club is that the ball made contact with the roof about 175 feet up.
"That just means you have power," manager Jim Leyland said. "Anybody who hits it up there, you've got power. When you see guys hitting the ball way, way up in the air like that, they've got power. They just missed one."
By any standards, it's a long way up. The roof literally sits over the lights that surround the ballpark, with enough clearance to slide over when the roof needs to be opened or closed. The roof was closed just before game time on a chilly night.
Even so, the Mariners had prepared for such a possibility. The official ground rules state that a ball that hits off the roof is an out, if caught.
Mariners get in extra pregame work Monday
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge is a no-nonsense guy, and he played that out a little more with a somewhat unusual full-squad workout prior to the normal batting practice routine for Monday night's game against the Tigers.
Wedge had all 26 players -- including injured closer David Aardsma -- on the field working on relay throws, cutoff situations, pitchers fielding practice and the kind of drills that normally take place in Spring Training, not regular-season afternoons when the team is playing every day.
The Mariners have only one off-day in the first 24 days of the season, and they are halfway through a stretch of 17 consecutive games without a break. They also just flew to Kansas City and back for a rare four-game road trip.
But Wedge clearly isn't in the mood for taking his foot off the pedal -- not with his club off to a 5-11 start -- and he had his men out en masse at 3:30 p.m. PT for a 40-minute workout before they took the field for their normal hitting and shagging routine.
Wedge insisted the work had nothing to do with the team's record or performance to date, however.
"Every now and then we'll do that," the first-year skipper said. "You work so hard all spring to get to a point, you want to make sure every now and again you go out there just to try to stay sharp. It's nothing crazy out of the ordinary, just something we'll do to stay on top of things.
"It's the big leagues, we want to make sure we're as prepared as we can be."
Mariners catcher Chris Gimenez, who played for Wedge in Cleveland in 2009, said the manager implemented such early workouts three to four times each season.
"He just likes to keep things fresh," Gimenez said.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Jason Beck contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.