SF Giants Prospects

San Francisco Giants add Juan Gutierrez to spring training roster

By Mark ONeill
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Juan Gutierrez is on the list of 22 players that the San Francisco Giants have summoned to spring training as non-roster invitees. After being designated for assignment, San Francisco re-signed the 31-year-old in December as backup for its already reasonably set bullpen.

Much can happen in the span of six weeks to alter one’s [or Juan’s] outlook, especially after contributing four sold months of quality work during 2014. The six weeks to which I allude are those of spring training, but Giants fans might also do well to remember that much of Gutierrez’ success in 2014, took place during that two-month stretch from June 8th onward. 

Just prior to suffering a biceps inflammation, his ERA was 2.70 (August 4th), but soared up to 4.13 by September 15th, and ended up just south of the four mark, at 3.96 for the year. He pitched 63.2 innings and had the best WHIP of his career at 1.19.

It is interesting to see Gutierrez’ name lumped in with non-roster invitees, but he surely knew what he was up against better than anyone else. For Gutierrez to make the team, something aside from the already expected, would have to occur to tamper with what is in place.

Sep 1, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson (17) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

What is in place is seven to make five starters, with the sixth one left over as swingman. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum are the first five, with recently-signed Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit filling out the seven. With the big-four of Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla making eleven and Jean Machi and Hunter Strickland still in the mix, there is precious little room.

Assuming Tim Hudson is not quite ready, and temporary insurance is needed, it still seems a long shot for Gutierrez in San Francisco because that would seemingly be Vogelsong’s department. That being said, Gutierrez did provide some much-needed help at a crucial juncture last season, and his ERA only took a metaphorical dive after he injured his forceps.

Would it be likely that in experiencing one of his most exhilarating rides of his major league career, he just did not want to admit how bad his biceps hurt?

Does one pitch through pain and possibly hurt the club, or take a seat when there is no one else to do the job?

In continuing to pitch, he may have hurt his ERA, but he did nothing to hurt his club presence. At a time when Matt Cain was just declared out for the season, and

Angel Pagan

was down for the count, along with

Brandon Belt

, Gutierrez did not want to take a seat.

He obviously has one advantage in that he has friends with the Giants already. Fellow Venezuelans Gregor Blanco, Jean Machi and Yusmeiro Petit will be there as well as the rest of the team with whom he made it to the playoffs.

Partially because of his poor last third of the season, and also because Bruce Bochy was obviously enamored with the possibilities of Hunter Strickland’s 100mph fastball, Gutierrez was left off the postseason roster. One might imagine he has not forgotten that fact.

So though he is undesignated for assignment, and classified an invitee, as though he still had something to prove, Juan Gutierrez will be in spring training because he does have something to prove, just as all of the twenty-five final players selected have something to prove: that each belongs.

That will be determined by how he pitches, starting tomorrow.

  

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