Franklin Gutierrez re-signed with the Mariners in mid-December and said he was “feeling good” after dealing with an assortment of health issues during the past three seasons, but the team announced that he now plans to sit out the entire season.
Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the center fielder has been placed on the restricted list after symptoms related to his gastrointestinal problems returned, writing: “Gutierrez didn’t feel it was fair to the Mariners to come to spring training in his condition and has decided to focus on his health.”
It’s yet another tough break in a long line of tough breaks for Gutierrez, who once looked capable of developing into one of the best all-around center fielders in the league by combining solid hitting with exceptional defense. Unfortunately that was 2009 and he’s hit just .243 with a .652 OPS since then while missing 243 of a possible 324 games during the past two years.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉