Franklin Gutierrez was in the original starting lineup Sunday. By 11 a.m., two hours before the Dodgers played the Colorado Rockies, the veteran outfielder was on the 10-day disabled list because of a rare inflammatory disease called ankylosing spondylitis, which forced him to sit out the 2014 season.
Gutierrez, signed to a one-year, $2.6-million contract in February because of his career .844 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against left-handers, has dealt with the condition, which over time can cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to fuse, since 2011.
Among the other symptoms are pain and stiffness from the neck to the lower back, pain in ligaments and tendons, fever, fatigue and a loss of appetite.
Gutierrez has managed the condition over time with medication, an anti-inflammatory diet and extensive stretching and massage. But there are many days like Sunday, when the physical and mental effort required to play in a major league baseball game is too much.
Gutierrez, who hit .232 with one homer, three doubles and eight RBIs in a platoon role, was replaced on the roster by utility player Mike Freeman, a left-handed hitter who can play second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield.
“We had him in there, and he just couldn’t get his body going,” manager Dave Roberts said of Gutierrez. “We’ll give him 10 days, allow him to reset, gain strength and eliminate some of the pain he’s having. He wanted to be in there, but he understands what’s best for the ballclub.”
Gutierrez was a standout defensive center fielder in Seattle, winning a Gold Glove in 2010, but his condition has robbed him of some of his mobility. He looked slow while trying to cut off a Tom Murphy double to left field Friday night, allowing Raimel Tapia to score from first base.
“That was something … but I don’t want to say that one play led to this situation,” Roberts said. “Franklin doesn’t move as well as he used to. We all understand that. But over the last few weeks, his body just hasn’t felt great.”
Freeman, 29, who was claimed from Seattle on May 26, hit .295 with two doubles and four RBIs in 20 games for triple-A Oklahoma City.