May 18, 2011, 1:46 PM EDT
Franklin Gutierrez‘s stomach problems dating back to last season were finally diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome last month and the Mariners’ center fielder has been activated from the disabled list after missing the first 41 games.
Gutierrez’s production suffered down the stretch last season, but even at less than full strength he almost can’t help but be a huge upgrade over what fill-ins Michael Saunders and Ryan Langerhans gave the Mariners in his absence. They combined to hit just .173 with a .556 OPS that ranks dead last in the league.
When he’s right Gutierrez is a .275 hitter with 20-homer power, 20-steal speed, and exceptional range in center field. He hit well while rehabbing in the minors, so the hope is that Gutierrez is finally healthy.
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