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Stroke hasn't clicked, but Gutierrez is patient

Dodgers outfielder has started spring with 0-for-19 showing
MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers took Thursday off, and nobody needed a reset more than Franklin Gutierrez.

The return to his original franchise after a 13-year gap has begun with an 0-for-19 shutout at the plate, leaving the 34-year-old frustrated but not discouraged.

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers took Thursday off, and nobody needed a reset more than Franklin Gutierrez.

The return to his original franchise after a 13-year gap has begun with an 0-for-19 shutout at the plate, leaving the 34-year-old frustrated but not discouraged.

"Every spring is different, but nothing before like this," said Gutierrez, whose career Spring Training OPS is .796. "I know it will be fine. It will come pretty soon. Repetition is the key. As soon as I get the first one, the hits will come."

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Gutierrez was reacquired because management prioritized adding right-handed offense during the offseason, and as manager Dave Roberts said, Gutierrez is "a lefty killer." Roberts and Gutierrez were outfielders in camp together in 2004 before his trade to Cleveland.

Here's what Roberts sees.

"Just from the side, it's a little coming off his back side and the path of his swing is a little on the uphill side," said Roberts. "Once he controls his back side better, his path to the baseball will be better. There are some pitches he's handling, but fouling them off. With a guy like Gutty, it doesn't take too much for him to find his stroke. A lot of veteran players start slow. He'll get there."

In 2016, Gutierrez played 98 games for the Mariners, and he recorded a .246/.329/.452 slash line. He was tied for second in the American League with 12 home runs against left-handed pitchers.

Between the time he was a top Dodgers prospect dealt to the Indians for Milton Bradley and when he re-signed as a free agent last month, Gutierrez won a Gold Glove Award, fought through a rare disease that almost ended his career and now has returned as a go-to bat against lefties, especially with health concerns about Trayce Thompson and Scott Van Slyke.

Cleveland moved Gutierrez in a three-team trade to Seattle, where he became a premier defensive center fielder until an immune-arthritic condition, Ankylosing Spondylitis, struck in 2011, causing stiff joints and associated debilitating symptoms.

It took several years to pinpoint a diagnosis, and Gutierrez sat out 2014 to let the medication, which he still takes, heal his body.

Overcoming something like that can make 0-for-19 seem insignificant, although Gutierrez has been working extra in the morning with hitting coaches to find his stroke.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Franklin Gutierrez