Franklin Gutierrez to begin year on disabled list with mystery stomach problems

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Franklin Gutierrez, who has spent much of the spring sitting out games while undergoing tests on stomach problems that date back to last season, will begin the year on the disabled list.

Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that Gutierrez “still has received no answers from a battery of medical tests and his return remains uncertain.”

He was initially diagnosed with a “slow digestive tract,” but the Mariners now believe something else is to blame. General manager Jack Zduriencik indicated last week that Gutierrez won’t be cleared to return until the cause is definitively found.

He’ll continue to undergo further testing while Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders take the Gold Glove center fielder’s place in the lineup.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.