Entering the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers had high expectations in place for veteran Franklin Gutierrez. As one of the few offseason acquisitions for Los Angeles, Gutierrez was brought to combat the narrative established that the Dodgers couldn’t hit left-handed pitching.
Although the Dodgers would go on to completely obliterate that thought during the 2017 campaign, Gutierrez is a player that proved throughout his career he could provide strong at-bats whether starting in the outfield or off the bench. At the same time, the left field situation was yet to be established, with Kiké Hernandez, Andrew Toles, Andre Ethier and many others fighting for a starting position.
Gutierrez emerged from Spring Training with consistent playing time, along with his proven track record. However, baseball is a sport that exemplifies streaky approaches and ongoing mental battles. The 34-year-old went 3-for-13, with two doubles in the first week of the season, before suffering a hamstring injury that would sideline him for the rest of April.
After a few setbacks, Gutierrez returning to the team on May 2. Gutierrez then made six starts in the month in May, appearing in a total of 16 games. During that time, he collected six hits in 21 at-bats, with a double, a home run, and four runs scored. While the results were somewhat average, the real issue that plagued the hitter all season was the rash of encumbrances that wouldn’t allow him to play at a healthy level.
During that stretch in May, he fell victim to a nagging hip injury, playing through it in order to contribute to the team. From there, he underwent an illness that limited his production at the end of May, causing him to miss a few more games. It also affected his production on the field, going 0-for-7 over the final seven games of May.
Gutierrez would push through the month of June, earning playing time following Toles’ ACL injury and Ethier’s back injury. However, his season would come to an unfortunate end when he was placed on the disabled list with Ankylosis Spondylitis. The arthritis condition is one that has stuck with him throughout his career, eventually leading to him being placed on the 60-day disabled list.
The Dodgers ultimately decided that the best course of action would be to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, shutting down Gutierrez. Overall in 2017, he hit .232/.317/.340 with a home run and eight RBIs in 56 at-bats.
The Venezuelan product had his only multi-hit game of the season on June 9, in a contest at Dodger Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds. His two hits, two RBIs, and one run scored set the pace for a 7-2 victory.
He stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, facing off against pitcher Jake Buchanan. On the third pitch, he delivered a base hit to left field, which scored both Corey Seager and Chris Taylor. That two-run single knocked Buchanan out of the game, expanding the lead to five runs.
Gutierrez signed a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2017 season, meaning he enters this offseason as a free agent. He underwent the beginning of a rehab assignment in June, nursing back his health in anticipation of playing in his 13th Major League season.