Apparently Franklin Gutierrez isn’t like most players or me or a lot of people in that he doesn’t hold grudges.
If Gutierrez got some pleasure for hitting the key two-run home run in tonight’s win along with making yet another brilliant leaping catch, he isn’t letting on.
One would think he would derive some added satisfaction beating his former team, that it appears may have given up on him a little prematurely.
His manager Don Wakamatsu understood if he did.
"I think for anybody who performs against a former team it’s always special," Wakamatsu said.
But Gutierrez, who might be the most laid-back guy and quiet person in the cluhhouse, just shook his head at such a notion.
"I don’t think like that," he said. "I treat them like any other team. I represent the Seattle Mariners now. Some people think it’s great to do against your old team. But for me it’s like any other team."
Of course the circumstances of his departure weren’t tenuous. Gutierrez was one of the key pieces in the three-team trade that sent Seattle close J.J. Putz to the New York Mets in the offseason.
Gutierrez holds no ill will for Cleveland trading him.
"They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues," he said. "But I came up as a rightfielder and I never played that position before."
The Indians have committed to having Grady Sizemore in center for a long time and with the emergence of Shin-Soo Choo and also having the speedy Ben Francisco, Cleveland decided Gutz was expendable. To be fair, Gutierrez didn’t exactly have a stellar season last year, appearing in 134 games and hitting .248 with eight homers and 41 RBI, while only posting a .307 OBP and a .383 slugging percentage.
Basically he was kind of like the Gutierrez we saw at the beginning of the season. But with every day, he’s gotten better at the plate. The approach is better, the patience is better and now the hitting is better.
Since June 18th, he’s hitting .375 with 8 HR and 20 RBI, and it raised his season numbers to
.294 with 12 homers and 40 RBI. So now the idea of him being expendable seems foolish.
Gutierrez won’t criticize the Indians, but he will say the trade was for the best for him.
"I think it was very good for me," he said. "I came here to play center field every day, I feel more comfortable and I’m doing my job. I’m having my fun."
While Gutierrez was showing his former team what might have been, starter Jarrod Washburn was trying to show the Mariners what he can still be. The lefty won his third straight start to improve 7-6 on the season, pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on eight hits, striking out three, walking none – doing so with shaky stuff and command.
"I think he’ll probably admit it, he didn’t have quite the feel for the ball tonight," Wakamatsu said. "But he keeps going out and battling."
Washburn freely admitted and then some.
"I wasn’t sharp at all," he said. "I don’t know how many spots I hit all night, but it wasn’t many. The guys played good defense behind me. I had good life on the fastball, even though I wasn’t hitting spots with it. I didn’t square too many up."
One of those guys that was playing the good defense was Gutierrez.
"I told him after the first inning, I said, ‘I’m going to make you a star,’" Washburn said. Every time I pitch, the guy makes an awesome play behind me. He makes them every day, it seems. He really does some special things when I’m on the mound it seems like."
As for the play at the plate, everybody thought he was out and replays show he probably was, but nobody was very upset, since it didn’t really matter in the end.