Gutierrez enjoys Classic meeting
Prospect, pitching for Puerto Rico, faces off against teammates
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Carlos Gutierrez spent last summer pitching at Hammond Stadium for the Twins' Class A Fort Myers Miracle ballclub.
On Tuesday, Gutierrez was back on that same pitching mound. But this time, the right-hander was facing the team that he hopes to pitch for one day.Gutierrez, a first round pick of the Twins in last June's First-Year Player Draft, is pitching for Puerto Rico in this month's World Baseball Classic, and he pitched in relief during the team's exhibition game against Minnesota on Tuesday. "I knew we were going to face these guys, so I was hoping to get into the game," said Gutierrez. "The coaches told me yesterday that I was going to get into the game. I was pretty excited about it. The results weren't in my favor, but it's the first game and next time should be better." Gutierrez came into the game at the start of the fourth inning and lasted just two-thirds of an inning against the Twins, giving up two runs on two hits while walking one. He gave up a two-run double to Joe Crede and grazed Delmon Young's shoulder with a pitch before being taken out of the game by Puerto Rico's manager, Jose Oquendo. It wasn't quite the performance that he wanted to deliver on such a stage, but Gutierrez said that he's relishing the opportunity to pitch in an event like the World Baseball Classic. And the 22-year-old pitcher is trying to take advantage of playing on a team that features such Major League stars as Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado. "I came in here and just wanted to learn from these big leaguers," said Gutierrez, who went 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 16 appearances for Fort Myers last year. "I came in [today], they right away told me, 'Hey, it's the first time, you're going to get out there again, it's not a big deal, you got to have fun out here and learn.' So, I'm just going day by day, learning as much as I could from these guys." The one player that Gutierrez did know well was third base prospect Danny Valencia, who was his college teammate at the University of Miami. But Valencia didn't get in the game until after the pitcher had exited. Still, for Gutierrez, it was an experience he won't soon forget. "You get a little bit nervous whenever you go out there," Gutierrez said. "That's just part of the game. Just facing these guys, it was pretty cool, actually."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.