The oblique strain is the injury du jour this season. CC Sabathia strained his oblique on Opening Night, prospect Tony Sipp strained his earlier this season, and now Casey Blake is heading to the DL after straining his oblique:
The injury, Soloff said, is very similar to the one ace left-hander C.C. Sabathia suffered on Opening Night. Sabathia missed a month of action. Soloff also said the recovery time for position players can often be slower than it is for pitchers, because the strain affects both throwing and hitting.
Coming up to take his place is Franklin Gutierrez, although he won't be playing every day. Todd Hollandsworth will see some more time in right, and Eduardo Perez might see a start there once in a while. Gutierrez is the best defender of the three, but he hasn't hit for much power since the Indians revamped his swing. Baseball America asked a "veteran AL scout" about Gutierrez (pay article), and the scout thought his future was as a fourth outfielder.
What's my opinion on Gutierrez? He's been Buffalo's best hitter, posting a .294 EQA (park-adjusted), and his K/BB ratio has improved. He's a plus defender anywhere in the outfield, and he has some speed. The Indians shouldn't be looking to deal Michaels or Blake after the season, but Franklin should be working his way into the lineup over the next year and a half. With Brad Snyder regressing, Gutierrez should get plenty of opportunities to play. If I did my top 20 list again this week, he'd probably be in the same position. The big question obviously is if he can hit for power at the major-league level. I think he'll hit just enough to stay on a corner.