Indians finalize minor-league deal with Cristian Guzman

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UPDATE: It’s now a done deal.

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After sitting out all of last season Cristian Guzman is expected to sign a minor-league contract with the Indians, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

Guzman, who made All-Star teams as a shortstop in 2001 and 2008, will be invited to spring training to compete for a bench spot.

At age 34 he’s likely to be stretched defensively at shortstop, but Guzman also has some experience at second base and has played sparingly in the outfield as well. He hit .266 with a .311 on-base percentage and .337 slugging percentage in 104 games for the Nationals and Rangers in 2010 and wasn’t much better in 2009, so even a bench gig is far from a sure thing.

Still, as a switch-hitter with good contact skills and plenty of middle infield experience he’s a decent no-risk pickup to compete with, among others, Jack Hannahan, Jason Donald, and Jose Lopez. Cleveland skipper Manny Acta managed Guzman in Washington.

Watch: Christian Yelich continues to make a case for NL MVP repeat

Christian Yelich
AP Images
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Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.

The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.

While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.

Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.

It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.