Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez likely done for season

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Franklin Gutierrez suffered an oblique strain during Sunday’s game and is expected to miss the rest of the year, says the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker.

Gutierrez ends a disastrous season with a .224/.262/.273 line in 322 at-bats.  He missed the first seven weeks with a stomach condition that was eventually diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome.  After debuting on May 18, he homered in his sixth game back, but then went the next three-plus months without one.  He drove in a total of 19 runs all season.

Regarded by some as the best defensive center fielder in baseball, Gutierrez was an All-Star-caliber performer when he hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers and 70 RBI in his first season in Seattle in 2009.  However, his OPS has dipped from .764 then to .666 in 2010 and .535 this year.  If not for the long-term deal he signed, he’d probably be a candidate to be non-tendered this winter.  Instead, he’s guaranteed $5.5 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013.

An offseason spent working out and regaining strength could make Gutierrez a different player in 2012.  The Mariners have no choice but to hope that’s the case.  They do have center field alternatives in Casper Wells, Greg Halman and Michael Saunders, but it’s unlikely that any of them will ever be as valuable as Gutierrez was two years ago.

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.