Back up options for Mariners in center field

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?


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.

Michael Saunders

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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About Clinton Bell

NWSB Editor. Born and raised in Friday Harbor. Even though he makes his home in Mesa still bleeds Seattle Blue and Green. Mariners Seahawks Sounders till the day he dies! Bring back his Sonics! Connect with Clinton today!
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  • nextgm

    Clintion! I think you are still smoking something a little wacky! Why are you so down on this bunch of kids? The Mariners have more raw talent this spring then they have fielded in years. All these young players like Carp, Smoak, Akley, Wells, Seager, Saunders, Montero,  Robinson and Liddi are going to be a solid foundation to build from. Not to mention the great group of young arms we have.
      You don’t build a team from the top down so why would you want to see them spend a bunch of money on a player or two when we don’t have that solid  foundation yet.  Let these guys develope for another year or even two. Let them establish themselves, then lets pick up the final pieces we need to complete the puzzle.
     I think we all forget that we are not the Yankees! We don’t have that big budget we would all love to see.
     I think you are going to be surprised at the level of ball this team plays. This team will establish its own identity this year. They will be competitive and they will be fun. They will also be inconsistant they will stuggle at times, find dumb ways to lose and maybe even make us cry at times, but that is part of building a winning team. We are headed in the right direction, so lets enjoy it. This is the most excited I have been about baseball in a long time. Go Mariners!

    • Clinton

      I hope, more than anything, that you are right. I am just growing very impatient with this rebuilding effort that is going on a decade in the making now. True, there are positive up swings on a lot of the guys on the roster this year, but also true is the fact that most of them are unproven. I do not like our center field choices at all, Gutierrez included. Saunders has been a flop, maybe Casper Wells really is the answer, but I’m just not very optimistic when it comes to the M’s anymore. I have been a die hard fan going on 30 years now, but it’s like the old saying: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I also get jazzed every year at spring training, and say to myself that this is the year we’re going to move over the hump. And year after year I am wrong. I hope to God that we can finally put something together, keep our core guys, and play some winning baseball. But I just have no faith in the management in keeping our guys together. There will be some sort of reason to send 4 or 5 guys somewhere for a over the hill, over priced player, and we’re back at square one again.

      • nextgm

        I would agree that they have shipped a lot of talent out for over the hill players. But I don’t think that is Jacks M.O. Granted he has made a few mistakes, but they were mostly when he was trying to field a competitive team before he got a real handle on the talent or lack of, he had to deal with.
         I believe he has a real plan for this team and is well on his way to implementing it. Again look at what our farm system was and look at it now.
         If Jack doesn’t build us a winner in the next two years I’ll be surprised.
         I’ve been right there with you rooting for this team since day one and know the frustrations we have all felt, but this team is different. There will be some very solid players developed this year that will be the next Bone or Edgar or maybe Dan the man. Have faith and enjoy! Go Mariners!
        Oh ya! Don’t give up on Saunders, this kid is going to be a stud before he’s done

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