CINCINNATI - Closer Eddie Guardado has marked his calendar.
The 36-year-old reliever accepted a minor league contract Monday from the Cincinnati Reds, who are giving him a chance to work his way back from reconstructive elbow surgery. The left-hander has been playing catch for about two weeks.
If all goes well, he could be pitching by the middle of the season.
“I'm looking at June 19 or 20,” Guardado said Monday during a telephone interview from his offseason home in Tustin, Calif. “That's my date. I'm counting my days.”
The closer known as “Everyday Eddie” when he saved 36 games for Seattle in 2005 is trying to extend a career that had its first significant setback last season. The Reds got him on July 6 in a trade with Seattle, which had demoted him to a setup role.
He converted his first seven save chances in Cincinnati, helping the NL's worst bullpen settle down. Guardado's elbow then started bothering him, forcing him onto the disabled list Aug. 20. He was 10-of-12 in save chances at the time.
When the soreness didn't go away, he had tests that found the first elbow injury of his career. He had surgery in September to repair a torn ligament and tendon.
The Reds liked what he did before he got hurt, and are still looking for help in their revamped bullpen.