This could be another example of things going very, very poorly for the Seattle Mariners during the nascent days of the 2014 season. The early days of the long, long spring don’t teach us much about what happens at the end of 162 games.
More to the point, the ongoing health issues of Franklin Gutierrez are bigger than baseball. For a 30-year old man to just up and decide he cannot play professional baseball this year, citing those very same health issues, things must be serious.
Gutierrez only has 173 games to his names since 2010 thanks to a very serious condition known as ankylosing spondylitis. When he’s played, Gutierrez showed flashes of brilliance. But his illness is unpredictable, the Mariners had no voice but decline his 2014 option, only to re-sign him a free agent a few weeks later.
The Mariners outfield picture is a little cloudier today, though it was hardly crystal clear before Gutierrez’s announcement. Abraham Almonte sneaks in to become the fourth outfielder, he of the .264/.313/.403 cameo in a September call-up.
Instead of working off a pillow contract with an eye to another pay day, Gutierrez finds himself on the restricted list for the time being. Not even the disabled list, the Mariners instead chose to change his contract status to reflect punishment, not injury according to Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk. By informing the team he cannot play but failing to report to camp, Gutierrez paints himself into a strange corner.
Most importantly — more important than the Mariners insipid outfield — is the health of Franklin Gutierrez. If his career is over, let him transition into a healthier stage in life, free of the travel rigors and pressure of MLB, to just get his body get right. Let baseball be the reward from good health, provided he can find it.