Indians sign Guzman, Garland on hold

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP)—Cristian Guzman will have a chance to make the Indians’ roster as a utility player.

Jon Garland’s shot at a spot in Cleveland’s rotation may be over before it started.

Guzman signed a minor league contract Wednesday with the Indians, reuniting the 33-year-old infielder with Cleveland manager Manny Acta. The two were together with the Washington Nationals.

“We’ve got a really good relationship,” Guzman said. “He was the guy that called me. He asked if I wanted to keep playing and said I could come here. They said come here, work hard and let’s see. That’s it.”

Guzman didn’t play last season because of a shoulder problem, but he passed his physical and will compete for one of the club’s reserve roles.

“We feel that we’re adding a veteran middle-of-the-infield type of guy,” Acta said. “He’s a switch-hitter who, over the last four years that he played, has swung the bat very well, including a couple of seasons with 40-plus extra-base hits. He took a year off last year due to some nagging injuries, but he’s still only 33. He’s going to be in the mix.”

A two-time All-Star, Guzman is a career .271 hitter in 12 seasons with Minnesota, Washington and Texas. With the Twins, Guzman won three AL Central titles and played in 18 postseason games. He has been mainly a shortstop at the big league level but played in 72 games at second in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Indians’ deal with Garland appears to be on hold.

The right-hander agreed to terms on a minor league contract last week, pending a physical. But Garland has yet to arrive in training camp and the Indians have not provided any update on his status.

Garland was expected to join the competition for the fifth spot in the club’s rotation, a free-for-all that will have Kevin Slowey, David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister and possibly others fighting for the job.

The 32-year-old Garland went just 1-5 in nine starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. He has 132 career wins and his experience and ability to compile innings would have been a big plus for Cleveland. Garland had his best seasons with the Chicago White Sox, twice winning 18 games in a season.

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Updated Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012