Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 3/5/12
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Looks like Gutierrez won’t be ready by opening day

By now, you’ve all heard about the pectoral injury to Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. It looks like he is going to miss up to six weeks with this injury, which, after a triple A rehab stint, doesn’t put him in a Mariners uniform until mid April, well after the start of the season.

CBS Sportsline (For your fantasy MLB leagues says Pectoral – Expected to begin season on 15-day DL. Out until at least late March)

With every injury in the big leagues, there is a hopeful young player waiting in the wings to get his chance to shine in the show.

The problem here is the player most likely to come in for Gutierrez, Michael Saunders, had the same shot last year and didn’t do so hot.

So here is a list of guys who can either platoon, start, or even possibly take over full time for Guti.

It’s no secret that he hasn’t been quite the same since his first year in Seattle.

Michael Saunders

It is true that Michael Saunders‘ power is supposed to be a lot better than it has been at the big league level, and over the first weekend of spring training it has finally shown up.

I’m not holding my breath that he is going to be a 40 hr type of player, but with the offensive output the Mariners have had at the center field position the past few years, any power whatsoever will do just fine.

Trayvon Robinson

Another potential CF is Trayvon Robinson. Robinson, a lifetime .210 hitter, is still looking to bust into a full time gig in the bigs. This could ultimately be the opportunity he has been waiting for. The lack of power may hurt his chances, and there will be some very stiff competition for him anyways.

Chone Figgins

Chone Figgins has played the position many times in his career. We already know he is going to be in the lineup starting the year out, and maybe the position change could also give him a jump start to his career.

With Figgins in center, it would open up third for manager Eric Wedge, and possibly give Kyle Seager the chance to be the opening day third baseman. I have other thoughts on Figgins too.

Want to read more of my thoughts on this topic? I touched on this in a prior article: Chone Figgins to lead off for the Seattle Mariners?

Ichiro

Now Ichiro Suzuki may be the most logical decision in more than one way, but he has said in the past that he doesn’t want to abandon his spot in right field.

Canadian Michael Saunders...any power whatsoever will do just fine.

Ichiro is going to be hitting third this season, and center fielders hitting third go hand in hand in MLB.

Not only does Ichiro have the speed, and coverage ability, but he has played center in Safeco before, a dubious duty for sure. But, like Chone Figgins, this leaves an opening for Wedge at Ichiro’s natural position, so it doesn’t really help the situation.

Casper Wells

Casper Wells is a corner outfielder by trade, but he has some speed, which will be a must to play center in Safeco. Wells is getting to be an older player, but he still has the defense to get the job done. Not Gutierrez defense, but a good glove and range will have to do till the Mariners get the gold glover back.

The good news is manager Eric Wedge has plenty of options. The bad news, none of them are good options. None of the guys are power hitters, and with the exception of Ichiro, none of them have had success getting on base for the Mariners either.

If Gutierrez does make it back by mid April, I think the M’s will be fine. Wedge can platoon three or four guys out there to get through till Guti gets back.

But if it’s going to be like last year, and the injury keeps nagging him, and postponing his return, then the M’s are in trouble. Big trouble.

But hey, what’s one more losing season to go along with the last ten?

It’s not like management will go out and spend money on a reliable center fielder anyways.

I guess for this season, we just wait and see what happens.

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© Clinton Bell for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Cactus League, Chone Figgins, Eric Wedge, Franklin Gutierrez, gutierrez injury, Ichiro, Ichiro Suzuki, Kyle Seager, Mariners, Mariners blog, Mariners blogs online, Michael Saunders, Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Mariners News, Spring Training, Trayvon Robinson

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