Guardado aims to close book on surgery
Closer eyes returns to dominance with Rangers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Eddie Guardado revealed what he hoped he would never have to, what he had delayed until he no longer could avoid it, until the pain became so intense that he could no longer ignore it."See this nice little scar here, I had this September of 2006, Tommy John [surgery]," Guardado said Thursday in the Rangers clubhouse. The Mariners traded Guardado to the Reds in July 2006. He went 7-for-7 in save opportunities in his first month with Cincinnati. But his last game was Aug. 19 that season. He could no longer continue. "I'm old-school," Guardado said. "You pitch with what you've got and it's easy to get guys out. It was working, but there was too much pain. I couldn't take it anymore. I finally had to get it done. I knew what it was. I just didn't want to do it." Guardado, who broke into the Majors in 1993 as a starter with the Twins, missed nearly a year after the surgery. After rehabbing in the Minors with Class A Dayton and Triple-A Louisville, Guardado returned to the mound in the Majors last Aug. 9 with the Reds. He appeared in 15 games and had a 7.24 ERA, allowing 11 runs and 16 hits in 13 2/ 3 innings. "I didn't feel too hot," Guardado said when he pitched at the end of last year. "There was no pain or nothing, but being out there, mechanics-wise, your mind is going 100 miles per hour, trying to get through it. "I hate to say it, but I was glad the season was over, so I could just rest it and be prepared to see what team I was going to be on this year. Here I am now and it feels really great. I think I'm 100 percent. I've been throwing off the mound a couple of times now. No setbacks. I always knock on wood." The Rangers signed Guardado to a one-year contract for $2 million, plus he could earn another $2 million in performance incentives. Other clubs, including the Yankees, Rockies and Reds, offered Guardado a contract. "The Rangers really showed a lot of interest in me," Guardado said. "That's what I like. Obviously, I've got the opportunity to come here and hopefully close. And that's what I like doing." Guardado was once one of the premier closers in the American League, saving 45 games in 2002 and 41 in 2003 for the Twins and 36 in 2005 for the Mariners. He has logged 183 saves. "You get a guy down there with almost 200 saves, with that experience and who is excited about playing the game everyday, I think that can only help," Rangers starting pitcher Kelvin Millwood said. Shortstop Michael Young said Guardado can help the bullpen. "He's had great success in the past," Young said. "I've always enjoyed competing against him in the past. I'm glad he's on our side now."
Guardado is known as "Everyday Eddie," but the elbow surgery has limited his appearances in the past two seasons.Guardado will also tutor C.J. Wilson, who is also left-handed and finished last season as the Rangers' closer with a dozen saves. "No doubt," Guardado said. "I try to give my knowledge the best I can. We're going to have some fun." Wilson is 27, 10 years younger than Guardado. "We're a young team," Guardado said. "I'm the oldest guy on this team." But 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery, Guardado is eager to pitch with a sound arm and like he did when he was younger. "I've got something to prove to myself, too, that I can stay healthy and hopefully contribute to this team," Guardado said.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.