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Franklin Gutierrez Tore Himself

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I decided against doing a vocabulary post today, because in honor of it being Leap Day, the Word of the Day is quadrennial, and everybody should already know the word "quadrennial". It's like perennial, except with quad first. With that said, if I were to use quadrennial in an example sentence, it might read:

A healthy campaign from Franklin Gutierrez is a quadrennial event.

It's not a great use of the word, but, man. We had healthy, effective Franklin Gutierrez in 2009. We had struggling, ill Franklin Gutierrez in 2010. We had frail, beanpole Franklin Gutierrez in 2011. And now in 2012, after all the optimism that Gutierrez was primed to bounce back, we have this:

Franklin Gutierrez has a partial tear of his pectoral muscle and will be out at least four weeks.

It's not a great shock that Gutierrez has a partial tear of his pec. I'm not a doctor, but as soon as the location of his injury was identified, a partial or complete tear seemed to me the most likely problems. But now we know for sure, and we've also been given a timetable. Gutierrez won't do much for at least four weeks. After that time is up, they'll check to see if he's good to resume baseball activities. If he is, then he'll have his spring training. If he isn't, then his spring training will be further delayed. I'd say there's a good chance Franklin Gutierrez won't play with the Mariners until May. And one can't ignore the chance that he doesn't play with the Mariners until after that.

If Gutierrez misses, say, a month, then statistically, this isn't a huge blow. Maybe the Mariners are worse by a win in a season in which they're probably not going to win. But this is just another problem for a guy who can't catch a break, and we don't know how strong he'll feel upon his return. Plus, if Gutierrez misses more than a month, then obviously everything gets worse. One of the things we really wanted to see in 2012 was Franklin Gutierrez re-establishing himself as a solid everyday player. A partial tear of his pectoral muscle isn't helping.

Everybody wants to know "what now?" That'll work itself out. As long as the Mariners think Gutierrez will miss just a handful of weeks, they probably won't seek help from outside the organization. This is an opportunity for Casper Wells, Michael Saunders, Chone Figgins, and Trayvon Robinson. Maybe Darren Ford, too. Gun to my head, I'd say Gutierrez starts the year on the DL, and the Mariners start the year with Saunders on the roster, either as a starter or a backup depending on what the team thinks of Wells' defense. But there's a lot of time between now and the regular season, so situations can change. Geoff Baker was writing the other day about how the Mariners didn't have any positions open for competition, and now they have one, at least temporarily.

The prospect of seeing Michael Saunders again might not excite you, but once more, that's just me speculating on the last day of February, and who knows, maybe his adjusted swing will actually be of help. I'm biased, because I think Michael Saunders is an awesome guy and so it's hard to be objective. It's not like Robinson or Ford are the cat's pajamas.

Remember that, in 2010, Cliff Lee didn't debut until April 30, and he was awesome. In 2009, Ichiro didn't debut until April 15, and he was awesome. While Gutierrez will miss the beginning of the season, he might hit the ground running upon his return. It's possible that in time we'll forget all about this. But it's also possible that this will be a huge problem, and for a guy who's had enough huge problems. We just want Franklin Gutierrez to be healthy and good. In that regard, the season is off to an ominous start. Sometimes I really just hate you, baseball.