It’s official: Guerrero signs with Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles ran into one final glitch Friday before
officially introducing Vladimir Guerrero to a small media gathering
in a room outside their spring training clubhouse.
Manager Buck Showalter struggled to unbutton Guerrero’s white
No. 27 jersey before holding it up for him.
”I just want to make sure it fits,” Showalter said with a
grin. ”I’ve never had to unbutton a shirt under pressure.”
Considering that it took most of the winter to reach an
agreement with Guerrero – and two weeks to schedule the physical –
one more delay seemed appropriate.
The Orioles are sure Guerrero will be worth the wait. He signed
a one-year, $8 million deal, with $3 million deferred, and will
serve as the every day cleanup hitter and designated hitter.
”I’ve only been here a couple days, so I haven’t had a chance
to meet a lot of people here. But the people I have met, I’ve been
feeling that. I’ve been feeling very much at home, they are like
family here,” he said through his agent, Fernando Cuza, who served
as an interpreter.
”Hopefully, God willing, I’m going to have a healthy,
productive year,” Guerrero said. ”I’d like to stay in the lineup
like I did last year. If I stay in the lineup, I feel like I can be
The nine-time All-Star batted .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs
for the Texas Rangers last season, but the market dried up for him
over the winter. The Orioles appeared to be his only serious
suitor, and the two sides reached agreement on Feb. 4.
”I think Fern did a good job convincing me what it was going to
take to get him here,” president of baseball operations Andy
MacPhail said. ”I was concerned, from other clubs’ standpoint, who
might jump in maybe later. Maybe somebody who wasn’t involved now
could get involved later. And the more we looked at our lineup,
talked to (owner) Peter (Angelos), talked to Buck, it was clear
that, really Vlad would make us, we thought, pretty solid one
”So our interest actually increased, and in a lot of respects,
we sort of made a pre-emptive move to take him off the market at
that time before another market for him started to develop.”
The physical was delayed until Wednesday in Sarasota because of
scheduling conflicts involving Guerrero, who has created a
noticeable buzz among teammates with his mere presence in the
”I can’t remember in recent memory where we’ve made a signing
that has generated as much enthusiasm as this one has,” said
MacPhail, adding that the Orioles are now ”in excess of $20
million” over last year’s budget.
Guerrero, wearing a black shirt and shorts, played catch with
outfielder Felix Pie on one of the back fields. He hit off a tee in
the indoor cage, rather than take batting practice. He wore his
game face at the press conference, smiling only a few times.
Guerrero laughed when the subject turned to his reputation as an
accomplished bad-ball hitter.
”It’s more about keeping your eye on the ball,” he said.
”Since I was little, I’ve always swung at bad pitches.”
And done it well. He’s a lifetime .320 hitter with 436 home runs
in 15 major league seasons. He is only the 14th player in history
to hit at least .300 with 400 doubles and 400 home runs.
”It’s no secret to anybody. Everybody knows what Vladi can
do,” said infielder Cesar Izturis. ”It’s great to have him on the
team. Hopefully, he’ll do something like he did for Texas last
year. It will be great.”
The 36-year-old Guerrero has always been comfortable at Camden
Yards, which will serve as his new baseball home. He’s a lifetime
.333 hitter in Baltimore, with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 32
Guerrero’s success at the ballpark, and the club’s 34-23 record
under Showalter last summer, influenced his decision to sign with
”Definitely that had something to do with it, knowing the way
the team was playing and the park,” he said. ”And at the time, I
The Orioles made room for Guerrero on the 40-man roster by
placing reliever Alfredo Simon on the restricted list. Simon is
jailed in the Dominican Republic following a New Year’s Eve
shooting that left his cousin dead and another man injured.
Authorities are waiting for the results of a ballistics test on the
gun that Simon turned in a few days after the shooting.
Simon can return to the 40-man at any time but won’t collect his
salary or accrue service time while on the restricted list.