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Too many Mariners players have had the misfortune of being struck by a freak accident. Last year, Justin Smoak took the ground ball to the face, Casper Wells took a pitch to the face and Gutierrez had stomach problems.
This year already, Gutierrez, who appeared to be in much better shape and over his stomach ailment, suffered a pectoral tear that will keep him sidelined a couple weeks into the start of the season.
Catching prospect Adam Moore was also hit with another frustrating injury when he broke a metacarpal bone a couple of weeks ago. Luckily, this one has a much more promising prognosis, and he'll potentially be back to comfortable playing by the time the team gets back from Japan.
Luckily, there are three other competent catchers on the team, so Moore's mishap will not really cost the team, but Gutierrez's could have more detrimental effects.
Before the tear, it looked like the outfield would be comprised of Ichiro, Gutierrez and Carp. Now, there's a gaping hole in center, where the "Death to Flying Things" would have been patrolling.
There are suitable replacements, but none with as much experience or expertise as Gutierrez.
The best strategy moving forward for the M's is, in my opinion, to fill holes where necessary, but to keep the spots available for when the players come off the DL. Gutierrez can still be a franchise outfielder, and Moore could be the franchise catcher if Montero doesn't make a successful transition to catcher.
Otherwise, if, say, Casper Wells (who also has solid defense) assumes the center field job, and Montero/Miguel Olivo/John Jaso take up all the time at catcher, Gutierrez and Moore could just be used as relatively valuable trade tokens.