Guardado returns to Rangers

Guardado returns to Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington has the three guys that he wants to pitch the final nine outs of a ballgame.

The Rangers completed the trio by adding left-handed reliever Eddie Guardado to a one-year Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Guardado will combine with right-handed closer Frank Francisco and left-handed reliever C.J. Wilson to form the back end of the Rangers' bullpen.

"If our starters can give us six innings, those are the three guys I can use to go back-to-back-to back and get us the nine outs," Washington said Tuesday.

Guardado returns to the Rangers as a left-handed setup reliever but also gives them an experienced closer behind Francisco. Those were the same circumstances in which he signed with the Rangers last year.

"It was weird out there this year," said Guardado, who plans to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. "I had a lot of teams calling, but nobody was throwing out any offers. Texas was the only one to show me any respect."

Guardado, 39, was 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 55 games for the Rangers in 2008 before being traded to the Twins on Aug. 25. He spent the first four months as a setup reliever before taking over as the closer at the beginning of August when C.J. Wilson went down with an elbow injury.

"Last year, toward the end of the year, I was thinking about retiring and staying home with the family and kids," Guardado said. "When I got home, me and my wife talked about it. Some days you want to hang it up, some days you don't. But as you get closer, you get the feeling again. I love competing, I love going to the clubhouse, I love playing baseball. I don't think you ever get that out of your system. So I told myself I would give it another shot."

Guardado had four saves for the Rangers and has 187 for his career, 14th most among active pitchers. He had 152 saves for the Twins and Mariners in 2001-05 and was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2002 and 2003.

"We like Eddie's ability, he's left-handed and what he brings to a team," general manager Jon Daniels said. "The way he pitched last year, he wasn't just a specialist, he pitched well against both left-handers and right-handers."

Guardado, who agreed to a contract worth $1 million plus incentive bonuses, is entering his 17th Major League season and has appeared in 860 games. That's 10th among active pitchers and 29th all-time. He will move into the top 20 if he pitches in 40 games this season.

"I think with C.J. and Frankie, they can use a nice calming effect down there like Eddie," Washington said. "They need a guy who can talk to them about situations and help them get ready. All the things that Eddie brings, those guys can really use."

Hot Stove

Right-hander Derrick Turnbow, signed earlier in the winter to a non-roster contract, is another possibility for the back end of the bullpen. He had 39 saves for the Brewers in 2005 and was an All-Star in 2006 before running into physical issues and control problems.

The Rangers have been trying to reinforce their bullpen all winter, especially after Joaquin Benoit went down with a torn rotator cuff. He had surgery last week and is likely out for the season.

The Rangers have also signed veteran reliever Bryan Corey to a Minor League contract, although not with an invitation to Spring Training. Corey has appeared in 91 Major League games over the past 11 seasons, posting a 5.13 ERA.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.