Guillen wants to stay put -- in KC and in OF
After two offseason surgeries, vet envisions return to form
KANSAS CITY -- Jose Guillen makes a couple of things very clear: He wants to play next season for the Kansas City Royals and he wants to be their right fielder, not the designated hitter.
"I'm doing great, just rehabbing a lot, working hard, staying motivated, trying to have a big year next year -- and I believe that's going to happen," Guillen said, "because I'm finally healthy."
Coming up on the third and final year of his contract with the Royals that pays him $12 million per season, Guillen had a disappointing 2009. He played just 81 games and batted .241 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs. That was after a .264/20/97 season in 2008.
His two turns on the disabled list were attributed to problems with his right hip and knee. But that, he revealed Wednesday, was only part of the problem. There was a growth in the lower left side of his back, which he described as a cyst, and a bone causing pain in his left ankle. He had surgery to correct both problems before the season ended.
"The ankle surgery was the worst one. That was pretty bad. They took a large piece of bone out of my left ankle. That was the reason I was not producing. I was hurt," Guillen said.
After being out April 10-25 and again July 23-Sept. 1, he came back to play in two games at Oakland before shutting down for the season.
"I had a large piece of bone hanging around my left ankle and my left side was all messed up and my swing was not the same," Guillen said. "My lower back was killing me. I tried to play through it, and unfortunately, I was not able to play through that."
Now that Guillen is gearing up for next season, so is the rumor mill, and the New York Daily News has suggested the Royals are interested in trading him to the Mets for Angel Pagan, a switch-hitting outfielder who batted .306 in 86 games last season. That would involve the Royals picking up part of Guillen's salary.
"That's what I keep hearing from my mom. She lives in New York and it was in the paper, but you know what, my mind is to play for the Kansas City Royals this season and finish the last year of my contract there," Guillen said.
"But it's all business, and I understand the business side and some decisions need to be made. I'm not even thinking about it. If it happens, it happens. If not, I'm getting ready for the Kansas City Royals this year."
Guillen, who has a limited no-trade contract, said he hasn't heard anything from Royals general manager Dayton Moore, currently vacationing and not available for comment. Guillen, though, sounded an agreeable note.
"I don't know if I have the Mets in my limited no-trade clause, I don't know what the deal is and I'm willing to do whatever Dayton wants me to do," Guillen said.
Yet he kept repeating that he wanted to finish out his contract with the Royals.
"I want to finish my third year with the Royals because I feel like I owe something to them because I feel I haven't been able to put up the numbers and been able to produce the way they want me to produce," Guillen said. "I feel like this year it's going to happen, because I feel like I'm 100 percent and I'm going to come back and be the Jose Guillen everybody expected me to be."
But that would be as the Royals' right fielder, thank you.
"I'm an outfielder, not a DH, and I want people to understand that. We'll see when Spring Training comes how I feel. But I'm a right fielder, not a DH. I want everybody in Kansas City to get that out of their mind," Guillen said.
"I'm a very good outfielder, I'm not a DH. I know there's been a lot of speculation about where I'm going to play next year, but people need to understand I was playing hurt. When you're not 100 percent, what are you going to do?"
The Winter Meetings are coming up on Dec. 7, and the Royals are Guillen's ninth Major League club. He's ready for almost anything.
"I've been traded so many times and released, nothing that happens surprises me," he said. "I'm for whatever's best for Jose Guillen and the Kansas City Royals, but my mind is to play for the Royals."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.