We've talked an awful lot about Franklin Guiterrez, the unexpected production in a fairly large sample size of his 2015, and just how happy we all are for him. When he was announced to have signed for a plate-appearance incentived one year deal this offseason, we were all, I think, a bit surprised. What was his market? We may never know, because it seemed like Guti never cared. He just wanted to stay home.
Of course, we immediately scratched him in as the natural platoon partner of Seth Smith. Together, their corner of the outfield, be it right of left field, looks to be incredibly strong. Franklin simply cannot play every day, and he and The Professional have platoon splits that compliment each other extraordinarily well. What's more, is that in keeping Guti fresh, you have one hell of a defensive player in the corner. But when position players reported to camp, I noticed something was a little different than planned.
Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) February 26, 2016
That is the First Hitting Group. The usual suspects are all there, Robbie, Kyle, Nellie, and then the fourth. The other basher. Franklin Gutierrez. It may seem like nothing, but so far, everything this new front office is doing is very intentional. It is no mistake that Guti finds himself in the number one crew during Spring. Neither was this a mistake from yesterday's game:
Franklin Gutierrez: "It's great when you hit the ball and you feel like you hit it good. It's a great feeling." https://t.co/mKP3GfuXwX— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) March 3, 2016
In Spring Training of 2016, Franklin Gutierrez hit a home run 430 feet to dead center field. And while we cannot be sure of the power and production we saw from him in the 189 PA's last season, it doesn't seem to be a mirage. Franklin Gutierrez just may be a power hitting corner outfielder, in the greatest shapeshift the Mariners have seen in many years. And it seems like Scott Servais is confident of the fact, batting him 4th at DH in yesterday's Spring Opener.
There's something more here, though, and it came in Bob Dutton's roundup from this morning. When asked if he could fill in at center field this season, Guti seems cautiously optimistic, relative to the hard "No" of last season. The tone has changed completely. Now, that is likely not at all the fault of the past regime, as Guti stuck by Jack Z through his darkest times. What it marks is a change in Guti. In the "communication" he has with the Mariners staff helping him deal with a difficult disease. What it marks is that Franklin Gutierrez is happy. And he's sure as hell ready to hit.