PEORIA, Ariz. – A marvelous big league career ended with dignity when Carlos Guillen, the veteran infielder in camp with the Seattle Mariners, announced his retirement Tuesday.
“Your body tells you, you know?” Guillen said in the Seattle clubhouse. “I’m going to go home.”
Bad knees, a strained calf injury that wouldn’t go away – Guillen didn’t play an inning this spring, including intrasquad games, and rarely was able to take batting practice. The last few days, he said, he’d been thinking hard about retirement.
Among the men he talked to Tuesday was M’s great Edgar Martinez, in camp to work with young hitters.
“I remember a lot of good things, the time I played here with Jay Buhner, Edgar, Ken Griffey Jr. and A-Rod,” Guillen said.
A 14-year veteran, Guillen was a Houston minor league player until traded to Seattle on 1998, sent to the Mariners with Freddy Garcia and John Halama for Randy Johnson. He played 488 games as a Mariner, then was traded to Detroit in 2004.
Guillen retires with a career .285 batting average. He was a three-time All-Star who’d hoped for one more season.
“It’s hard to get out of the game,” he said. “I’d like to help kids, help young players become better players and better people. What will I miss most? When a lot of people cheer for you, it means a lot. I enjoy being around other players, being in a clubhouse. This is going to be a big change.”
7 VIE FOR 3 SPOTS IN M’S ROTATION
There are seven candiates for the three spots in the rotation beyond Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas – Hector Noesi, Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, Kevin Millwood and rookies Dan Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
Pitching coach Carl Willis has penciled out the rest of the spring schedule in Arizona with each of those pitchers getting plenty of work.
The most likely scenario is to send the rookies to the minors, Tacoma for Paxton and Walker, perhaps Class AA for Hultzen. That would leave Seattle with three openings and four candidates.
Whatever the rotation appears to be on March 22, when the team flies to Japan, could change by March 31 – when Seattle returns to Arizona and plays five more exhibition games.
For now, Noesi and Iwakuma have a leg up on rotation slots, and Beavan and Millwood seem to be in a battle for the fifth spot.
Pitchers work on pitches during spring training, throwing them in counts and situations they might not if the games counted.
That doesn’t mean they accept the results.
Reliever Shawn Kelley entered Monday’s game with two runners on base – they belonged to Oliver Perez – and faced pinch hitter Jason Haggerty.
“I didn’t know the hitter and I was working on my changeup and left one up,” Kelley said. “When he hit it, I thought it was a fly ball that would get a run home – but this is Arizona.”
The ball banged off the wall in center field for a two-run triple.
“I got mad at myself,” Kelley said. “Yeah, you’re working on things, but I hate giving up someone else’s runs. I got mad and started pitching better.”
Kelley got two quick outs to strand Haggerty at third, then pitched a scoreless inning.
The Mariners scored five runs in a mistake-marred third inning and got three shutout innings from Felix Hernandez in beating the Cincinnati Reds, 8-6. The win left the Mariners 4-1 in the Cactus League … Catcher Jesus Montero was back in camp a day after being sent home with flu-like symptoms, and participated in the morning workout. “I feel a little weak, but I’ll be ready to play (today),” Montero said. … Alex Liddi started at third base Tuesday – the first time he’d played third all spring. Liddi’s game time had come at first base and designated hitter. … Left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo had another rough outing, allowing three runs in an inning. His spring earned run average: 18.00. … Ichiro Suzuki batting third seems to have put life back in his step – and his bat. After he went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI Tuesday, Ichiro owns a spring average of .429. … On the catching depth chart, Adam Moore is fourth behind Miguel Olivo, John Jaso and Montero. Given a chance to play, however, Moore has hit: Two more hits Tuesday brought his spring average to .667.
The Seattle Mariners play the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe today, a noon (PST) game that will be broadcast on 710-AM. Probable starting pitchers: Blake Beavan vs. Jered Weaver.