PEORIA, Ariz. -- It had been a week since Franklin Gutierrez was in the starting lineup in his normal spot in center field, but there he was again on Sunday as his bout with leg soreness apparently had settled down.
Gutierrez made an immediate impact as he drove the second pitch he saw from D-backs starter Wade Miley over the fence for a homer to lead off the game.
Gutierrez, a Gold Glove winner in 2010 who had his 2012 season marred by injury, last started the previous Sunday against Texas, with Michael Saunders, Casper Wells and Jason Bay seeing time in center in the interim.
"They know what I can do out there, but it's good obviously to be out in the outfield again," Gutierrez said.
Manager Eric Wedge said the priority was to ensure Gutierrez was ready to go for Opening Day. Gutierrez said on Sunday that he feels ready with eight days to go before the opener -- and, after all, that's the goal.
"That's the key," he said. "I think I'm ready to go now. It's a long season and you have to prepare to play every day. That's why I'm taking care of myself right now so I'll be durable in the season."
Said Wedge: "He's missed a lot of time but he still continues to get better. When he's in there, he's a great contributor for us. Now we just need him to stay healthy and stay on top of his body."
Chavez returns to Mariners as non-roster invitee
PEORIA, Ariz. -- A familiar and friendly face was back in the Mariners' clubhouse on Sunday morning, when outfielder Endy Chavez arrived as a non-roster invitee to Major League camp, smiling and happy to get another chance with the club.
Chavez, who was released by the Royals earlier in the week, returns after having been Seattle's Opening Day left fielder in 2009. He sustained a torn right knee ligament in a June collision with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and didn't play in the Majors again until 2011.
Chavez, 35, played with Texas in 2011 and Baltimore last season. He had signed with the Royals as a free agent this past offseason, going 6-for-32 with zero extra-base hits in Cactus League play before his release.
"I appreciate this opportunity," Chavez said Sunday morning. "These guys right here are giving me the opportunity to be back in the Majors. I have to just go forward, and I want to work hard and be healthy."
Now back with the Mariners, Chavez is expected to add depth in all three outfield spots and particularly center field, where starter Franklin Gutierrez is the main man on the Major League side, but was injured much of last season and has been dealing with leg issues this spring.
"You always have to have depth, you always have to have insurance, you always have to make sure you're prepared in case something happens," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We're trying to take an optimistic viewpoint with Gut, but we want to make sure we're prepared whether it's him or somebody else that we have options out there."
Chavez got off to a good start with the Mariners, whacking a double off the fence -- just missing a homer -- in the ninth inning on Sunday.
With only a week to go in camp, Chavez knows his chance to play in the Majors again very likely will have to wait until after the season begins.
"I'm not expecting anything crazy," he said. "I know I'll start in Triple-A, and that's good for me. I'm getting the opportunity to play baseball and the chance to play in the Majors."
Chavez has 11 Major League seasons behind him, having played for the Royals, the Expos/Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles. He made a famous catch in the 2006 National League Championship Series while with the Mets, leaping above the fence to rob Scott Rolen of a homer -- helping out current Mariners lefty Oliver Perez in the process.
Montero feels good one day after scary scene
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jesus Montero walked into the Mariners' clubhouse on Sunday morning and that nasty bump on his head, the one that emerged moments after he'd been hit with a bat in a scary incident during Saturday's game, was gone.
Several hours of ice treatment had done the trick, and barely a splotch was there on the right side of his forehead, evidence that the damage from Indians prospect Francisco Lindor's bat was relatively superficial.
"I feel good. Thank God nothing happened," Montero said. "It was a scary moment yesterday. I was feeling great and I was hoping to help us win the game and then this thing happened. Everybody knows these things can happen in the game."
After the incident, the 23-year-old catcher says there's one thing he can do to avoid it happening again.
"What can I say? I have to be a little more far from the hitter," Montero said.
After Lindor's backswing hit him on the head, Montero stayed down on the field for several minutes, and he said on Sunday that the bump on his head emerged immediately while he was on the ground. Montero said he didn't want to jump up to his feet in case the injury was severe. It was later determined he did not suffer a concussion or any other more serious conditions.
As of Sunday, he was back catching bullpens, not in the starting lineup of the game against the D-backs but able to participate in normal baseball activities. For Montero, things like Saturday's scary incident are just part of what comes with the position.
"We're catchers, and that's our job, to be tough," Montero said.
Saunders isn't focused on his spring numbers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Saunders says his Spring Training numbers don't reflect how he feels on the mound, which, considering the numbers, is a good thing for the Mariners left-hander.
After allowing eight earned runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings on Sunday in an 8-4 loss to the D-backs, Saunders owns an 11.57 ERA through 11 2/3 innings in Cactus League play.
"You never want to give up hits or runs, but I don't really focus on results," Saunders said. "I focus solely on how my body feels, how my arm bounces back."
All of that is a green light at this point, said Saunders, who signed with the Mariners in February and is slated as the team's No. 3 starter heading into the 2013 season.
"I feel like I'm right on track," he said.
Saunders' Sunday outing featured peaks and valleys -- hits from the first two batters leading to a run in the first, a 1-2-3 second, then a third inning that included three singles, a double and three walks.
"In the third inning, it felt like I had five walks in that inning and was kind of battling some mechanical stuff, but I refocused the next inning," said Saunders, who had another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth before allowing a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth to cap off his rollercoaster day.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he felt Saunders "righted himself" over the latter innings and ultimately got a good day of work in with 90-plus pitches in his final Cactus League outing of the spring.
"He was a little bit out of sync in his deliver early on and had trouble commanding the ball, and command is a big part of his game," Wedge said. "But I like the way he was throwing the ball later in the game."
• With two homers Sunday -- a leadoff shot by Gutierrez and a three-run job by Kendrys Morales -- the Mariners have 50 homers, tops of any team in Spring Training and one off the club record of 51 in 1999.
• Non-roster invitee Kameron Loe continued to make a strong case for himself with two shutout innings that included three strikeouts and a double-play grounder.
• Right-hander Brandon Maurer will make his next bid for a spot in the rotation in Monday's game against the Reds and is in line to take the ball in the Mariners' game at Salt Lake City against the Rockies on Friday. Maurer, 22, hasn't pitched above the Double-A level, but has been impressive this spring.
• Jon Garland, who requested and was granted his release from the Mariners after they wouldn't commit to starting the season with the right-hander in the rotation, landed with the Rockies on a Major League deal.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.