Connor rejoins Rangers; Guardado too?
Former pitching coach comes back as consultant; reliever on radar
LAS VEGAS -- The Rangers have re-hired former pitching coach Mark Connor as a consultant, and they are also interested in bringing back free-agent reliever Eddie Guardado for their bullpen.Guardado, who was also a free agent at this time last year before signing with the Rangers, was 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA and four saves in 55 games for them before he was traded to the Twins on Aug. 25.
Guardado would once again be an option for the back end of the Rangers bullpen along with right-hander Frank Francisco and left-hander C.J. Wilson."He's somebody we will look at," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's in a class by himself in what he brings to the clubhouse, and he performed well for us on the field, too." Guardado spent the month of August as the Rangers' closer after Wilson underwent elbow surgery. Francisco took over the job after Guardado was traded and goes into Spring Training as the incumbent. Wilson could compete for the job or he could be a setup reliever. But the Rangers would like to add another left-handed reliever and Guardado is high on their list again. "I'd be open to him returning," manager Ron Washington said. "He meant a lot to C.J. and he meant a lot to Francisco. When Eddie came into the game, you knew one thing was going to happen: He was going to throw the ball over the plate and they would put it in play." Connor was the Rangers' pitching coaching from 2005 until he was let go in July. But the Rangers still think highly of him and Daniels is bringing him back as a pitching consultant, mainly in the Minor Leagues. He is not filling the Minor League pitching coordinator position that came open when Rick Adair was hired away by the Mariners. This is a consulting role working with different pitching projects at all levels of the Minor Leagues. "With his relationships in the organization and his experience in the game, he really helps us on the development side," Daniels said. "He's somebody I trust and a person I respect." The Rangers remain on the prowl for pitching at the Winter Meetings but aren't close to anything right now. Daniels plans to meet with agent Casey Close to talk about a Minor League deal for Jason Jennings, but doesn't expect to talk with him again about Ben Sheets before leaving Las Vegas. Teams are showing interest in the Rangers' position players and there has been some clubs inquiring about shortstop Michael Young. The Rangers have made it clear that they will listen to any trade proposal, but they are not shopping Young, and club officials made it clear they don't expect that kind of a deal. The Rangers appear more interested in seeing if they could trade offense for pitching, but nothing has materialized. Interest in Hank Blalock remains low, but clubs could be waiting to see where Mark Teixeira and others land before exploring that possibility. "We feel we have some depth across the board, position player-wise," Daniels said. "But pretty much almost everybody has an option, so we're not backed into a corner where we have to do something. If we can upgrade the pitching staff, we'll consider it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.