01/11/08 6:46 PM ET
Rangers sign Guardado, Wright
Texas secures pitching depth with veteran closer, reliever
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Guardado, 37, is a two-time All-Star closer who had 140 saves from 2002-05 -- including a league-leading 45 in 2002 -- and 183 in his career. Guardado said he is willing to do whatever the Rangers ask him, but made it clear -- just like Wilson has -- that he prefers to close."I love it," Guardado said. "I love closing. Pitching the seventh and eighth inning is great, but there is something about the ninth that's unbelievable. I enjoy it. "I like competition, but I don't compete against my teammates. C.J. Wilson is my teammate. I go into Spring Training getting ready for 162 games of Texas Rangers baseball. I compete against the other guys. If C.J. is the closer, I'm still going to be there. I'm going to be ready to pitch whether it's the eighth or ninth inning." Guardado's last big year was in 2005 when he had 36 saves for the Mariners. He had five for the Mariners in 2006 before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds on July 6. He pitched in 15 games for the Reds before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Sept 8. He was sidelined for 11 months and did not pitch again in the Majors until Aug. 9 of last season. He had a 7.24 ERA in 15 games but allowed just one earned run in his last 9 2/3 innings, and Daniels said the Rangers were "comfortable" with Guardado's physical health. "It was a long year last year," Guardado said. "I got back in August and I got hit around a little bit -- well, I was hit around a lot -- and that wasn't very fun. I started thinking, 'What am I doing out here?' But everybody told me that the last thing to come was my pinpoint control and that's what happened. It clicked in September and I had a very good September. "My track record speaks for itself. I love pitching and I love competing. If not, I wouldn't still be pitching. I don't have anything to prove to anybody but myself and I want to prove to myself that I can still pitch at a high level." Guardado and Wilson are expected to hold down two spots in the Rangers' seven-man bullpen. Fukumori and right-hander Joaquin Benoit also have two spots locked up, according to Daniels. Fukumori is coming off elbow surgery but is expected to be ready for Spring Training. That leaves three spots open. Right-hander Frank Francisco, who was 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA in 59 games for the Rangers last season, has the inside track on one job, but is not a lock. Other candidates include right-handers Wes Littleton, Scott Feldman, Josh Rupe, Kameron Loe, Robinson Tejeda and Jason Davis and left-hander John Rheinecker. The Rangers released left-hander Bill White earlier this week, but he has cleared waivers, and the club is trying to re-sign him to a Minor League contract. Wright officially joined the competition on Friday when he agreed to a Minor League contract. After spending almost his entire career as a starter and making 246 Major League starts, Wright moved to the bullpen for the final two months of the season and had a 2.05 ERA in 11 appearances. "We've talked to Jamey and he feels comfortable in that role," Daniels said. "He is a big, strong, durable guy and he performed well in that role." The Rangers also signed catcher Adam Melhuse to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He'll be one of six catchers in camp along with Gerald Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Stewart, Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.