Franklin Gutierrez is still dealing with effects from ankylosing spondylitis, an auto-immune disease that wiped out all of his 2014 season and has essentially robbed him of his once notable outfield mobility.
But as it stands now, Gutierrez feels good enough to start against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the series opener, putting Freeman in limbo.
“Franklin has had some things going on, but we just wanted to have some coverage,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To have Mike here in case something goes south, we have coverage.”
Gutierrez bats cleanup for the Dodgers.
Freeman was 3-for-18 (.167) with three singles in six games since joining Oklahoma City, and the left-handed-batting, right-handed thrower started two games at shortstop and two games at third base in Triple-A.
The ups and downs of minor league life for Freeman are similar to his various roles when playing.
“As a utility player I’m never really comfortable at any position for very long,” Freeman said. “Whenever you get called to do something different, just be ready, and prepare the same way regardless.
“There are no guarantees in this game, or any kind of timetable. You just kind of go about your business, and that’s all you can control.”
Speaking of utility men, Kiké Hernandez is making his first career start at first base, adding a seventh defensive position to his repertoire. With Gonzalez on the mound, both Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Bellinger get days off, just the second for Bellinger in 39 games since his call up.
Roberts said he talked to Hernandez during the offseason about potentially playing first base, a position he has played during winter ball in Puerto Rico.
“I figured I’d check off that box,” Roberts said. “It gives me an opportunity to spell Cody and Adrian.”
Nationals roster move
Washington made a change to its roster before Monday’s series opener, placing old friend Jayson Werth on the 10-day disabled list with a left foot contusion.
Utility man Ryan Raburn was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to take his place, and to make room on the Nationals’ 40-man roster pitcher Rafael Martin was designated for assignment.