Franklin Gutierrez will start in center tonight and then hopes to do the same tomorrow. But he just can’t be sure yet.
Gutierrez wants to be out there every night, but has been hampered by a recurring problem he says is originating in his pelvis and impacting other areas in his legs. The problem began at the start of spring training and is something he’s never dealt with before.
“I have some issues with my pelvis, so I’m trying to fix it,” he said. “Some days it’s my groin. Some days it’s my hamstring. It’s different, but I’m working on it.”
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Gutierrez gets treatment every day before games and after. Sometimes, even during games. He does special stretching and exercises to get stronger in those areas and try to avoid further injury.
“I’ve been working every day just to get better,” he said. “I’m trying to get in the lineup every day. When you have a day off, obviously it helps helps for the next day because you recover a little better. I feel better today.”
And he tries to stay positive. After all, he’s been sidelined by a littany of things dating back to 2009 and the frustration would eat away at him if he let it.
“I know it’s been really tough on me the past two or three years,” he said. “I’m just trying to be positive and focus on the things I need to do to be on the field. Because nobody wants to have an injury. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be an everyday player. Be ready to play every day.”
Tonight, he’ll be on the field. And what a field it is here at Minute Maid Park, with quirky outfield dimensions and a grass berm that runs uphill in center field.
Gutierrez spent about 10 minutes during early batting practice walking around the entire outfield and trying to get a feel for it.
“I just want to have an idea if during the game a flyball is hit there,” he said. “I want to know how to run down the ball.”
He added that some of the balls being hit to center and the gaps during early BP seemed to carry a bit, so we’ll see how that plays later on.
Speaking of grass berms and quirky stadium issues, Gutierrez had to deal with both his last time on the field Saturday night in Arlington against the Rangers. A.J. Pierzynski hit a home run to center in the fourth that Gutierrez looked like he might be able to catch after climbing the wall.
But a Rangers fan known as “The Worm” raced over from the stands to the deserted berm area beyond the wall — this is allowed at The Ballpark — leaned over a rail and grabbed the ball away from Gutierrez.
“I’m pretty sure I could have caught that ball,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t understand how they let those people come in there during the games. I got a little bit mad about it because I know I could have caught the ball there. It is what it is.”
Gutierrez said his glove glanced off the one used by the fan.
“I was focused on the ball,” he said. “I didn’t know the guy was there. As soon as I climbed the wall and put my glove out, I felt like I hit something. So, as soon as I turned over, I realized the guy was there — jumping around because he caught the ball.”