Finally, some positive news for Carlos Guillen.
David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press reports that the veteran infielder has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment and will get things started Monday with Single-A Lakeland.
Guillen has not played in a major league game since undergoing microfracture knee surgery in September of last season and is likely to need over two weeks of minor league at-bats in order to get his timing right. That puts his projected return somewhere around the All-Star break, maybe a little after.
Guillen, 35, is making $13 million this season in the final chapter of a four-year, $48 million extension that he signed with Detroit in March of 2007. He’s hit just .269/.352/.426 with 27 home runs and 129 RBI since the ink dried on that contract. The Tigers will hope for much better down the stretch this summer.
If Guillen gets going and proves capable of handling everyday innings, he should easily steal starting second base duties from Ryan Raburn, who is batting .199/.239/.329 through 64 games this season.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.