Mariners, Guillen agree on 1-year deal
Tuesday, December 5th 2006, 6:31 am
By: News On 6
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Jose Guillen and Ichiro Suzuki in the same outfield _ Seattle manager Mike Hargrove has never had two arms so strong side-by-side.
The Mariners and Guillen agreed on a one-year, $5.5 million contract Monday with a $9 million mutual option for 2008, giving Seattle a starting right fielder and a dangerous bat in the middle of the order.
The deal was the first formal signing of the four-day baseball winter meetings that began Monday.
Guillen missed much of the 2006 season following reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. The Mariners hope his addition is only a start because they want to upgrade their starting rotation.
``I'm just looking forward to this opportunity to try to get back on board and have the success that I've had before,'' Guillen said when introduced in Seattle's hotel suite.
Guillen can earn up to $2.75 million in performance bonuses. He will take over right field from Suzuki, who is moving to center _ making them quite a defensive pair in the outfield.
``He's a hard-nosed player and likes to play the game. That's what we're looking for,'' Hargrove said. ``He fits real well in our lineup among (Raul) Ibanez, (Richie) Sexson and (Adrian) Beltre. Considering the production he has shown in his career, it's a significant acquisition for us. He plays the game with a lot of passion and heart _ he's not afraid to stick his nose in there.''
The 30-year-old Guillen batted .216 in 69 games last season during his second year with the Washington Nationals, hitting nine home runs with 40 RBIs before his elbow injury.
He underwent a thorough physical with the Mariners' medical staff and the team thinks he will return to full strength for 2007. Guillen said doctors have told him he will be completely healthy by January and ready to go in spring training. He is already doing some hitting and light throwing.
``We feel like this is a signing with some real upside,'' general manager Bill Bavasi said. ``Our doctors have given him a very complete physical and we are very confident he's healthy. When Jose has been healthy in his career he's put up numbers.''
Guillen had several run-ins with manager Mike Scioscia while with the Angels in 2004. Guillen was suspended for the final eight games of the regular season and left off the playoff roster.
He was suspended for one game and fined late in 2005 for throwing a tantrum _ and a lot of equipment _ during a game against the New York Mets.
``I know all of you guys and probably a lot of people will probably make a big deal out of it. I'm not,'' Guillen said. ``Whatever happened in the past is the past. I'll just put it all behind me and I'm just looking forward to bringing a championship to Seattle. I think most of you guys know the type of player I am. I'm going to bring a lot of fun to this team this year.''
Guillen is a career .272 hitter with 143 home runs. He also played for the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds, as well as Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Arizona.