Guzman to try comeback with Tribe

Guzman to try comeback with Tribe

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta called Cristian Guzman this offseason and asked if the veteran infielder was interested in attempting a comeback. Cleveland was willing to offer Guzman that chance.

On Wednesday, which was Guzman's second day in camp with the Tribe, the Indians officially anounced that they signed the infielder to a Minor League contract that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Guzman passed a physical with Cleveland on Tuesday and has already been taking part in on-field workouts.

"We've got a really good relationship," said Guzman, referring to Acta. "He was the guy that called me. He asked if I wanted to keep playing and said I could come here and sign a Minor League contract. If something happens, I could help the team. So I said, 'OK, I'll go.'"

Acta said Guzman -- despite missing all of last season -- would compete for a utility role on Cleveland's bench.

"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 and stuff, but he's still only [33] years old. He's going to be in the mix."

Guzman becomes the 62nd player in this spring's crowded Cleveland camp. He also ups the list of non-roster invitees to 22 players, including 13 new additions who joined the team on Minor League contracts this winter. Among that group, Andy LaRoche and Jose Lopez are also in the mix as utility players.

Guzman, who will turn 34 in March, played for the Washington Nationals during Acta's time as manager of that team. The infielder indicated that the plan is for him to see time at both shortstop and second base this spring. Acta added that Guzman could see action at third base this spring, too.

It was reported last March that Guzman was going to miss a significant portion of the 2011 season because of family issues. On Tuesday, Guzman said it was an ailing right shoulder that forced him to miss the entire campaign. He noted that his shoulder is now healthy as camp begins.

"I want to keep playing, so I'm here to try to do my job," Guzman said. "They said, 'Come here, work hard and let's see.' That's it."

Guzman underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his throwing shoulder in October 2009 and said he experienced complications after the surgery. His last season came in 2010, when he hit .266 with two home runs and 26 RBIs in 104 games between stints with the Nationals and Rangers.

Over parts of 11 seasons in the Majors, Guzman has hit .271 with a .307 on-base percentage between stops with Minnesota, Washington and Texas. Asked if he believes he can indeed make a comeback as a player, Guzman cracked a smile.

"That's why I'm here," he said.