Carlos Guillen threw folks for a bit of a loop this morning, announcing his retirement from baseball. Guillen has been slow to get going physically in camp and came to the realization his time was up.
The move leaves the door wide open for Kyle Seager to make the club, since somebody will be needed at third base on days Chone Figgins is playing the outfield.
“It’s a tough decision for me and for my family and everybody,” Guillen said. “Because I tried to come back, but I can’t.”
Guillen spoke to his teammates before they took the field for workouts this morning and got a nice round of applause afterwards.
“It was the best for this team,” Guillen said. “We’ve got great talent here. A lot of young guys, a lot of talent.”
Guillen made the decision over the past couple of days, saying that “your body tells you” when it can’t go forward. He said his family still encouraged him to keep going but he realized it was time to step away.
“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s funny, but I don’t feel ready.”
Edgar Martinez is here at the complex this morning. Guillen mentioned getting to play with him, Alex Rodriguez and others during the team’s playoff years as one of his career highlights.
He’ll best be remembered for a run-scoring bunt single in the ninth inning to clinch the 2000 division series against the Chicago White Sox — setting off a wild celebration by the Safeco Field throng. Chicago entered the series as favorites, but the Mariners swept them 3-0 before taking eventual-World Series winner New York to six games in the ALCS.
“It was an exciting moment,” he said. “One of the best moments of my career. I was young. Lou (Piniella) gave me a lot of confidence in myself. He called on me and he wanted me to hit a ground ball towards first base. The first pitch, I was thinking ‘Well, a deep fly ball might score the winning run.’ So, I took the first pitch and he stepped out (of the dugout) and said ‘Hey, somebody told you something!’ And I said ‘OK, OK.’
“I was thinking before I got in the batter’s box that if he threw me a fastball inside, it was going to be hard to hit a ground ball to first base. So, I had to find a way. I thought, ‘OK, maybe a drag bunt’. So, I was trying to cover home plate and get the ball to first base and the ball went through and we won the game.”
As for Seager, there is still no guarantee he’ll make the squad. Much will depend on how much playing time he can get at third base.
With Franklin Gutierrez slated to miss at least a month of games and likely more, Figgins could see added time in center. That could get Seager just enough games as a backup at third and likely one more contest per week in the middle infield to justify keeping him.
Teams don’t like to have young prospects sitting on the bench too long. Seager so far is making the most of his exhibition play at camp, so he’s certainly giving the team plenty to think about.
Seager doesn’t play first base, so that’s a minus. But the team can shift Mike Carp over there on days Justin Smoak needs a rest.
Another option is to keep Luis Rodriguez as a backup corner infielder and send Seager to Class AAA.
At this point, though, if Seager continues to hit this spring, I say the team would be inclined to at least start the year with him and see how much playing time evolves. Today’s retirement pretty much leaves that opportunity wide open for him to seize on his own.