By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners have announced that Franklin Gutierrez has suffered a partial tear of the right pectoral muscle. He will be treated non-surgically and will be able to resume baseball activities in approximately four weeks. At that point he will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis.
A tear is never good but the fact that he is expected to resume baseball activities in a month would indicate that the tear is not severe. The tough part for Gutierrez is that not only will he miss games – I would think at least the first month – but he will also lose a lot of the work he did in the offseason for a second straight year.
The Mariners will have to find another center fielder and Jack Zduriencik told "The Kevin Calabro Show" today that they have options.
"Casper Wells has played out there, Michael Saunders has looked very good, Figgy got his feet wet out there today as well," he said. "It is way too early, we see encouraging things but you do have to caution yourself to realize that this is just spring training and we are going to let things work before our eyes and see what our best option is as we begin to play games and see these kids in game competition."
There is intrigue about Wells' bat and he has shown he can play center. Saunders would be the best defensive option and this is important as Gutierrez was going to help cover some ground with Mike Carp in left. With Saunders, the defense is there and he has been swinging a good bat early in camp.
The feeling with Trayvon Robinson was that he needed more time in the minors. He will get a closer look with Gutierrez out.
And then there is Chone Figgins, who was originally scheduled to play shortstop in today's intrasquad game but got moved to center after Gutirrez was hurt. Wedge said the plan all along was to get Figgins work in the outfield. This is where things could get interesting.
Figgins most likely wouldn't be looked at as an everyday replacement but could see more time at center in the absence of Gutierrez and this could mean good news for a young infielder. The more Figgins moves around the more third base is open for a Kyle Seager or Vinnie Catricala.
I would look for an all-out competition between the outfielders and a closer look at some of the infielders. Can Wells pick up where he left off before getting hit in the nose last year? Has Saunders found the swing that will give him success at the plate? Can Robinson show better discipline at the plate and better defense than we saw last year? There are options.
As for Gutierrez, another tough break.
"He's crushed," said Zduriencik. "I know how hard he prepared and how much he wants to be a part of this and he was going to be again if he bounced back and he was going to be a huge part of this thing. Unfortunately, it is going to be delayed by some period of time."
Delayed for how long we do not know. Gutierrez will be back in camp soon and have to wear a sling for the next 5-7 days. After that it is back to work and hopefully a speedy recovery.
"It's a setback certainly," said Zduriencik, "but guys bounce back from injuries too and we hope and expect him to do that."