Top Prospects: Stephen Pryor, RHP, Mariners

SEATTLE -- Steven Pryor, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 15 with a torn muscle in his right shoulder, played catch at 120 feet in the outfield on Saturday as he took another step closer to returning to the Mariners' bullpen.

Pryor said he'll start throwing bullpen sessions sometime next week.

"The arm is back in shape, I'm not feeling any pain, so everything is going good. That's all I can ask for," Pryor said. "The last couple weeks have just been getting back into shape, like Spring Training all over again. Hopefully in the next few days I'll get back on the mound and go from there."

The hard-throwing right-hander gave up just three hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings over seven relief appearances this season before straining the latissimus dorsi muscle behind his right shoulder.

Pryor originally expected to be out six to eight weeks. The recovery has taken longer than expected, but it now appears he could return sometime in July.

"We hope to get him off the mound here this homestand and go from there," said manager Eric Wedge. "But yeah, he's doing pretty good."

Gutierrez feeling renewed in return from 60-day DL

OAK@SEA: Gutierrez homers in return from DL

SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday, says he's finally back to feeling like himself again after getting on a medication recently to deal with a joint-inflammation issue.

Gutierrez has been on the disabled list since suffering a hamstring injury on April 23. He was recalled from his Minor League rehab assignment in time to join the starting lineup for Saturday night's game against the A's at Safeco Field.

To make room on the 25-man roster, outfielder Michael Morse was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday, after continuing to battle a strained right quadriceps muscle. Minor League outfielder Eric Thames was designated for assignment to create a spot on the 40-man roster.

Manager Eric Wedge said Gutierrez would be used primarily in center field as long as he's feeling well, with Michael Saunders able to move to left or right as needed. Gutierrez will be brought along carefully, given his history.

"We're not going to push the envelope," Wedge said. "I don't think we can with him. We just want to keep him in a good spot and that's where he is right now. … The biggest thing we heard is he said he feels normal for the first time in a while. That's encouraging. He stole some bases down there, he hit with some power, it should be a boost for us to have him back."

Gutierrez has dealt with numerous health issues over the past two and a half seasons, having played in just 148 of the team's 399 games since the start of 2011. His latest issue was something genetic, he said, that doctors discovered and compared to an arthritis-like condition.

"I was playing every day in Triple-A, feeling good, getting my legs back again," said the 2010 Gold Glove outfielder. "It wasn't easy because I was having some inflammation with my joints and that was the cause of all this. I wasn't moving the way I'm supposed to move. But now I'm getting to the point where I feel normal."

Gutierrez, 30, hit .232 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 22 games with Tacoma while recovering from the leg injury. In the previous two years, he's been on the disabled list with a digestive issue, a torn pectoral muscle, a strained oblique and a concussion.

"It's been a little frustrating because nobody wants to be on the DL, nobody wants to have an injury," he said. "I just want to help my team. I just want to be here. It's been a tough road for me, but I'm just trying to stay positive and do whatever I can the rest of the season.

"I'm feeling much better because it was affecting my joints, my eye was getting inflammation. So many people didn't know about this and we didn't talk about it until now. I don't want to make a big deal of it, but this is what has been happening, and I'm feeling much better. I'm taking my medication and it's working."

Thames, 26, hit .295 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 57 games for Tacoma. He is currently on the Minor League disabled list with a left wrist laceration. Thames was acquired by Seattle on July 31 from the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Steve Delabar. The Mariners now have 10 days to trade, release or outright Thames' contract.

Mariners send Morse to DL with lingering quad issue

SD@SEA: Morse leaves with injury after play at plate

SEATTLE -- The Mariners on Saturday placed Michael Morse on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday. While pinch-hitting against the Angels on Thursday, the 31-year-old slugger said he felt pain in his right leg. He has seen limited action since straining his right quad on May 28 against San Diego.

Morse, who appeared in 11 of the Mariners' past 23 games, saw occasional time as a designated hitter, pinch-hitter, and first baseman. His ability to play through the injury was crucial for the Mariners, with players such as Justin Smoak and Franklin Gutierrez recovering from their own ailments. But playing through the pain has come at a price for Morse, who saw his OPS fall from .799 in April to .774 in May and .653 in June.

"For him to suck it up and try to get through it was great, but we did feel like he was going to progress better than he did," manager Eric Wedge said. "But ultimately he didn't, so I think the best thing for him and for us in regard to the season is to shut him down and get him healthy."

Wedge also said that he expected Morse to take a rehabilitation assignment in Triple-A Tacoma before returning to Seattle.

"Obviously we've got to get him healthy first, but I think if we sent him down for two or three days, three or four days, it'll be a good thing," Wedge said.

Morse is batting .251 with 11 home runs and 23 RBIs in 56 games this season.

Worth noting

• Outfielder Jason Bay was out of the lineup for a sixth straight day on Saturday due to a sore hamstring, but he is getting close to returning, according to manager Eric Wedge.

"We'll see how he feels today," Wedge said. "He's better. I'm not sure if he's going to be an option for us just yet, but he should be sooner than later."

• Third baseman Kyle Seager entered Saturday night's game leading the team in hits (82) and walks (28), contributing to a .351 on-base percentage. No Mariners player has led the team in both categories since Edgar Martinez in 1995. Seager also had a six-game hitting streak, his third streak of five or more games with a hit in 2013.

• Seattle has an even record at home this year, going 18-18. The road hasn't been friendly to the Mariners, who are 14-25 away from Safeco Field.