Franklin Gutierrez remains sidelined by the stomach problems that have plagued him since last season and Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the center fielder will undergo additional medical tests.
Two weeks ago the Mariners announced that Gutierrez had been diagnosed with a “slow digestive tract” and would be able to manage the issue through diet and medication, with team trainer Mitch Storey calling it “just a simple thing” while adding that “there’s nothing wrong with him … he’s not sick.”
Apparently that has changed, or it was never true in the first place. General manager Jack Zduriencik told LaRue that “it’s bothering him and we’re waiting for more test results … Franklin doesn’t feel strong.”
His status for Opening Day is now in doubt, although figuring out the cause of Gutierrez’s stomach problems is obviously a much bigger concern than his readiness for early April games. Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders are the in-house options to replace Gutierrez in center field.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.