Franklin Gutierrez diagnosed with torn pectoral muscle

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From beat reporter Shannon Drayer of Seattle’s ESPN 710 AM comes word that Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez has been diagnosed with a partial tear of his right pectoral muscle.

Gutierrez suffered the injury Tuesday while making a throw during a drill and flew to Seattle on Wednesday to get a full examination from team doctors.

Gutierrez will be in a sling for the next 5-7 days and won’t be allowed to perform baseball activities for the next four weeks. He’s certain to miss the start of the season, and could be out until mid- or late-May depending on how quickly he can get back up to speed.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that Michael Saunders, Casper Wells and Chone Figgins are being considered as temporary replacements for the 29-year-old center fielder. The organization plans to address the absence internally.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.