Notes: Gutierrez wants to stick
Youngster giving Tribe every reason to keep him in the bigs
CLEVELAND -- He's been recalled more times than he can recall. But Franklin Gutierrez wants to prove to the Indians that he can and should be a fixture on their big-league roster."I think I'm doing my job," Gutierrez said. "I'm trying to help the team and do what they need me to do to try to win games." That includes playing stellar defense in all three outfield spots and mixing in the occasional clutch knock. Gutierrez has done all that in his second recall to the big-league club this season. Since rejoining the Indians on May 31, Gutierrez has notched just six hits in 31 at-bats, but he's scored four runs, driven in four runs, hit two homers and come through with one pinch-hit. Manager Eric Wedge said Gutierrez has taken a more aggressive approach at the plate this season. Gutierrez has also been less timid in the field. The catch he made of an Alex Gonzalez line drive in Cincinnati on June 9, crashing into the right-field wall to make the grab and preserve a 10th-inning tie, was one of the Tribe's defensive highlights of the season. Groomed as a center fielder, Gutierrez proved himself as a right fielder with that play. "The first time you make that play in right field and you feel great the next day," Gutierrez said, "it's going to give you more confidence." The Indians' confidence in the 24-year-old Gutierrez has grown over the years, to the point that he's become somewhat of a platoon man in right field, spelling Trot Nixon against left-handed pitching. On Sunday, he'll spell Nixon in right against Braves right-hander Kyle Davies. This is an important season for Gutierrez, because he will be out of Minor League options in 2008, and the Indians will have to decide if they want to keep him around. Apparently, he's on the right track. "He's been a little bit better every year," Wedge said. "He's done a great job of really working on his craft, and he's getting better in every area of the game. You've got to be thrilled with the progress he's made." Here's the question... Game 3 of the 1995 World Series between the Indians and Braves was the first championship game played in Jacobs Field. Jose Mesa worked three innings of relief to get the 7-6, 11-inning win, but whose RBI base hit gave the Tribe the winning run? Going long: Long relief is an inglorious role, but it's a role Rafael Perez has performed quite well since his May 28 callup from Triple-A Buffalo.
On deck: The Indians will open a three-game series against the Phillies at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday at Jacobs Field. Left-hander Cliff Lee (3-4, 6.04 ERA) will oppose fellow southpaw Cole Hamels (9-2, 3.47).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.