Coming off elbow surgery, Guardado close to signing contract with Rangers

CINCINNATI -- Left-hander Eddie Guardado is close to
reaching a contract with the Texas Rangers, who could use some
experience at the back of their bullpen.

The 37-year-old reliever became a free agent when the Cincinnati Reds declined to pick up his $3.5 million option for next season.
Guardado is making a comeback from reconstructive elbow surgery in
September 2006.

Agent Kevin Kohler said in a telephone interview Tuesday that
the deal with Texas should be completed this week. The Reds and
Rangers were among four teams that made solid offers, Kohler said.

The Rangers would become Guardado's fourth major league team. He
pitched for Minnesota from 1993-03, developing into one of
baseball's best closers. He led the AL with 45 saves in 2002, then
saved 41 games a year later.

He pitched for Seattle from 2004-06, when he lost his job as
closer and was traded to the Reds at midseason. He had eight saves
and a 1.29 ERA for the Reds before developing a sore elbow that
required reconstructive surgery.

Guardado spent most of last season completing his
rehabilitation. He rejoined the team in August and made 15
appearances, getting better as he went along. Guardado didn't allow
a run in his last seven games.

The Reds return David Weathers, who had a career-high 33 saves
last season. They also signed Milwaukee's Francisco Cordero, the
top free-agent closer on the market, to a four-year, $46 million
deal in November.