Yankees promote speedster Guzman
Move gives Bombers another basestealing threat in the outfield
NEW YORK -- The Yankees can tell from looking at Freddy Guzman's career statistics that he knows how to run. With an eye toward October, they'd like the chance to see it up close.
New York on Monday promoted the 28-year-old speedster from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, signing him to a big league contract and adding him to the active roster.
In a corresponding move, right-hander Anthony Claggett was designated for assignment to create room for Guzman on the 40-man roster.
"Freddy is another option to pinch-run for us, play outfield defense, play an outfield spot for us," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's got great speed and, in some late situations, there's a chance that you're going to see him in there."
Such a situation presented itself in the eighth inning of Monday's 5-3 win, when Guzman pinch-ran for Jorge Posada, who had been intentionally walked. Guzman moved to third on Robinson Cano's RBI single but was stranded there when Nick Swisher struck out swinging.
Though the Yankees already have an outfield speedster on the active roster in Brett Gardner, Girardi said that it is possible they might want to carry an additional speed threat such as Guzman in at least one of the postseason rounds.
It is an assignment that Guzman -- who has 443 stolen bases to his credit over eight Minor League seasons -- understands.
"In the playoffs, sometimes they need some basestealing," Guzman said. "If they give me a job, I'll be here for that."
The move to acquire Guzman from Baltimore's Triple-A Norfolk affiliate was announced while the Yankees and Orioles played at Camden Yards on Aug. 31. He was swapped in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.
"I didn't expect that I was going to get traded, especially to the Yankees," he said. "When they traded for me, they told me that I had a chance to be called up to use my speed. I'm happy and excited."
The Yankees are Guzman's fourth professional organization of 2009, as he also spent time with the Triple-A affiliates of the Mariners and Red Sox in Tacoma and Pawtucket, respectively.
Girardi said that the interest in Guzman came from upstairs in the organization.
"Our scouts talked about him as a speed guy," Girardi said. "They grade on a speed scale up to 80, and he's probably a 70 runner. When you look at his Minor League statistics, he's always stolen a lot of bases. He was someone that we could look at and create some problems for other clubs."
In 101 combined games this season, Guzman batted .223 (78-for-350) with 44 runs scored, nine doubles, five triples, two homers, 17 RBIs and 45 stolen bases in 54 attempts.
"I had an up and down year in Triple-A," he said. "I tried to do my best at stealing bases and scoring runs. That's my game, and I've been doing that the whole year."
Guzman has played in the big leagues -- with the Padres in 2004 and the Rangers in 2006 and 2007 -- and he is capable of playing all three outfield positions, though he has played mostly center field.
Most important for the Yankees, he has continued to show the ability to run, and Girardi said that he would not hesitate to use Guzman as a pinch-runner as early as Monday night, in the makeup game with the Angels.
"That's his biggest asset right now," Girardi said. "You talk about how some guys have a lot of power, some guys have strong arms. He's got a lot of speed."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.