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.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.