Eddie Guardado wanted to stay in Minnesota. The Twins said thanks but no thanks.
Guardado hopes to get a chance to show his former teammates what they’re missing when the Seattle Mariners host the Twins in the opener of a three-game series.
Guardado, 4-for-5 in save chances during his first season with the Mariners, developed into one of baseball’s finest late-inning relievers during his extended stay with the Twins. He played a big role in the Twins winning the last two AL Central crowns, recording 86 saves in that span.
But Guardado said the Twins didn’t put forth much effort to re-sign him, and he departed through free agency, eventually signing a three-year contract with Seattle that could be worth $17 million.
Guardado, who spent 11 seasons in Minnesota, said he was constantly on the phone in spring training talking to his former teammates.
“We have stayed in contact and do a lot of things in the offseason, like go to (Las) Vegas to watch some (prize) fights,” he said. “It’s going to be weird playing against them, because I played with those guys for so long.
“But I have a job to do and when I get in there. They are my buddies off the field, but on the field I have to get them out.”
The Twins replaced Guardado with Joe Nathan, formerly a setup man with San Francisco. So far, Nathan has done the job, converting all seven of his save opportunities.
“I’m trying to do the same stuff I always do,” Nathan said. “Go after guys, be aggressive and try to get them to swing at a pitch I want them to.
“If you can get past the whole mental stuff (of being a closer), that’s the only thing that’s different.”
Although he hasn’t allowed a run in 11 of his 12 outings, he has yet to work a 1-2-3 inning. However, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says the end result is all that matters.
“Do any closers have those?” Gardenhire said. “Not many.”
The Mariners, who have split their last six games, are coming off a 12-2 win at Detroit on Sunday. John Olerud was 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Seattle, which set a season high for runs on 14 hits.
The Twins have scored just one run in losing their last two. On Sunday, Michael Cuddyer supplied all of Minnesota’s offense with a solo shot in a 3-1 loss to Anaheim.