Perhaps the biggest name next to Roger Clemens to come to the Atlantic League, slugger Vladimir Guerrero will be bringing his talents to Long Island this season.
Guerrero, 38, has signed with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, according to a report Thursday night from Foxsports.com reporter Ken Rosenthal.The Ducks’ Twitter account confirmed the news Thursday night.
The Ducks had yet to announce the signing Thursday night and message left on the cell phone of Ducks’ manager Kevin Baez was not returned.
While York Revolution manager Mark Mason is happy about the news, he said the Revs might have just missed out on signing Guerrero after having discussions with him most of this off-season.
“We were basically trying to tell him a better opportunity afforded him here to get back to the big leagues,” Mason said. “As of yesterday the way it was left was that he would think about it and maybe give us an answer early next week and see what went on from there.
“I’m happy that he’s in the league. I think it’s great that he’s in the league. Am I disappointed that he didn’t sign with us? Obviously. He’s a borderline Hall of Famer.”
Guerrero, 38, last played in the big leagues in 2011 as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Mostly a designated hitter, he batted .290 that season for the Orioles, with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 145 games. Guerrero is a career .318 hitter in 2,147 games in the majors, with 449 homers, 1,496 RBIs, 1,328 runs scored and 2,590 hits.
The Dominican Republic native played in just 12 total games last season split between the Toronto Blue Jays’ Class High A Dunedin and Class AAA Las Vegas clubs. This season, Guerrero was deciding between coming to the Atlantic League or going to the independent Can-Am League to play with the Quebec Capitals.
In a string of tweets from Rosenthal late Thursday night, Guerrero released the following statement on signing with Long Island:
“I loved playing in Canada and really wanted to play for Quebec and old friend Michel Laplante. I grew up with the Montreal Expos and played there for almost 10 years. The fans there are my friends. However, my ultimate goal is to make it back to the majors and reach 500 homers as soon as possible Quebec’s season starts about a month later than Long Island. I own a home on Long Island and am also very comfortable there. I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity.”
Revs’ third-base coach Enohel Polanco, formerly a resident of the Dominican Republic, had been working the phones from his New Jersey home over the off-season.
“Polo talked to him (Guerrero) for awhile (Wednesday) basically telling him that we would give him all the lee-way he wanted,” Mason said. “Three weeks ago he said he was gonna go to Quebec and play. A part of it was he had signed his first pro contract in Canada with Montreal.”
Mason said he would’ve given Guerrero the chance to go Quebec if he didn’t enjoy playing for York.
“I would give him an opportunity to come here, go through spring training and see what the league was about,” Mason said. “If he liked it, great. If it’s something he didn’t like to do and wanted to go to the Can-Am League, I would release him or send him up there in a trade.”
This isn’t the first time the Revs have had discussions with Guerrero, either.
“Originally we tried to talk to Vladimir about coming down here last season before he went to Toronto,” Revs’ baseball operations manager Andrew Ball said. “Polo knows Vlad’s brother. He also knows a guy who owns the facility where Vlad works out at. He’s been talking to the two of them. I know at least this past weekend he talked directly to Vladimir himself.
“I’m not surprised he signed with Long Island but I’m surprised he signed now because Polo just talked to him the other day and had no indication that he was going to sign anytime soon.”
Mason said the move makes sense.
“I just think maybe with the condition with the Yankees are in right now, playing in Long Island, it’s a little bit closer to New York,” Mason said. “If he can put up numbers right away he has a good shot at getting signed quickly.”
Mason said he was going to give Guerrero a chance to play left field in addition to being a designated hitter.
“I was gonna give him an opportunity to play in the field at least a couple times to show he can play out there, which would get interest from National League teams and not just the American League.”
Despite losing out on Guerrero, the Revs’ outfield is already stacked with former big leaguers Jeff Fiorentino, Tyler Graham and Jason Repko.
Plus, York fans might get a chance to see Guerrero play if he’s still a member of the Ducks when Long Island visits York for a three-game weekend series May 3-5.
“I’m happy that he’s in the league,” Mason said of Guerrero. “Would I like to have had him? Yes. It’s good for the league to have guys like him in here.”
From Polo: I caught with with Polanco by phone on Friday afternoon to get his take on the Guerrero discussions. Polo said he last talked to Guerrero on Wednesday.
“He said his agent was working on something,” Polanco said. “And then we just found out he signed with Long Island. He told me he had a home on Long Island. He thinks maybe because of the location of Long Island, it’s close to the Yankees and the Mets.”
Polanco said Guerrero is a nice, humble guy not wanting to make much noise. That makes sense considering how much Guerrero thought about going back to play in Canada, where he has spent most of his career.
“He’s a nice guy. He’s just glad to play the game,” Polanco said. “He’s not one on making noise. He doesn’t like to talk.”
Alumni updates: Former Revs’ pitchers Scott Rice and Shawn Hill had impressive outings Thursday night. In his first start for Class AAA Toledo, Hill went seven innings and allowed three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He gave up two home runs. Toledo lost to Louisville, 4-3.
In his second appearance for the New York Mets, Scott Rice pitched two-thirds of inning out of the bullpen, allowing two hits. The Mets lost to the San Diego Padres, 2-1. Speaking of Rice, the left-hander was on the MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” on Tuesday. Click here to check out the York Revolution’s blog post about it, which includes the six-minute clip of Rice on the show.
DeMark: Former Revs reliever Mike DeMark, released by the Diadmondbacks last month, said in a text message Wednesday he is now in the minors of the Oakland Athletics’ organization.
Kazmir on DL: Former Sugar Land Skeeters’ pitcher Scott Kazmir will indeed miss his first scheduled start with the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. The Indians put the left-hander on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with what is being described as a right rib cage strain. The setback delays Kazmir’s return to the majors, where he last pitched in 2011 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
Tryouts: The York Revolution are set to hold open tryouts this Friday at Sovereign Bank Stadium. We already know one of the players scheduled to participate is 53-year-old Tony Phillips, an 18-year major league veteran who made his pro debut in 1978. Click here to read the full story from Revs’ media guru Paul Braverman on the Revolution’s blog.
Mason said Thursday night former Revs’ reliever Andy Wells might also participate. Wells, 24, is a free agent after being released by the Mets recently. Wells made just three appearances for York last season, allowing a total of 10 runs (eight earned) on eight hits and nine walks in 4.1 innings of work (16.62 ERA), before being released in June. He has been pitching indy ball his entire three-year pro career.
Ball said Thursday night Northern York High School graduate Nate Eppley could show up, too. Eppley is a 24-year-old right-handed reliever. A 29th-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2011, Eppley was released by the A’s last month. In 2012, the righty went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 14 appearances at Class Low A Vermont and 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in seven games at Class A Burlington. If Nate’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because his older brother, Cody, also a Northern York grad, is a New York Yankees’ pitcher.