Notebook: Guardado takes $4 million option

Closer Eddie Guardado is back with the Mariners, without ever having left.

A day after the Mariners declined to invoke their $6 million option on the left-hander's 2005 contract, Guardado yesterday exercised his $4 million option to return to Seattle for next season.

Guardado, who missed most of the second half of last season with a shoulder injury, said he never seriously considered exploring free agency, a route available to him but made problematical by health issues.

"Not one bit," he said from his home in Southern California. "I always told myself, I like to start what I finish. Obviously, I could have filed for free agency, but I didn't want to look up that road anymore. I just want to play baseball and help the Mariners win games."

Guardado's agent, Kevin Kohler, cited his client's loyalty to the Mariners, who signed him last year to a three-year contract. He had 18 saves and a 2.78 earned-run average in 41 games before a torn rotator cuff sidelined him in early August.

"He did have the right to file for free agency and look around," Kohler said. "We knew, through the rumor mill, other teams were interested in talking to us. But Eddie made the decision he didn't want to listen. He wanted to be a Mariner. He feels they want him to be their closer. That's the main thing they wanted to know."

Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said he was delighted with Guardado's decision, having sweated out the 24 hours of uncertainty.

"We're trying to gather guys with Eddie Guardado's makeup," he said. "It was a bit of a gamble. We think he's going to be healthy. We want the pitcher back, but we also want his makeup and leadership back."

The Mariners face a similar situation with Guardado next winter, when they will have a $6.25 million team option, and he will hold a $4.25 million player option.

Ichiro, Boone honored

Ichiro broke records with his bat this year, while Bret Boone struggled through an inconsistent year at the plate.

Both, however, maintained their defensive prowess, and yesterday each was honored with a Gold Glove for fielding excellence.

For Ichiro, it's the fourth straight time he's won a Gold Glove for outfield play — every year he's been in the majors, on top of the seven straight he won in Japan.

Boone won at second base in the American League for the third straight year, and the fourth time in his career. The Gold Gloves, presented by Rawlings, are voted on by AL managers and coaches.

"I'm not surprised at all," said Boone in a conference call. "I planned on winning it. You know what? It's one positive thing in a tough, tough year."

Asked to evaluate his defensive season, which resulted in 14 errors and a .978 fielding percentage — below his career .986 mark, which ranks sixth-best all time among second basemen — Boone was typically frank.

"As opposed to my career? Not one of my best," he said. "But I've had tremendous, tremendous years in which I didn't win the award. That's the way I look at it.

"I'm not saying this was a bad defensive year. It's just that in all the years I've played, it's not in my top two. It's not in my top three."

Boone lauded Ichiro, who received most of his attention for his successful assault on George Sisler's hits record. However, Ichiro's play in right field was again exemplary. He had three errors for a .992 fielding percentage, while his 12 assists ranked third in the AL.

"Ichiro, the year he had, with the hits he got and the record he broke — still, he was great in the outfield," Boone said. "He's probably the best fundamental outfielder I've ever played with. Without a doubt, he's very deserving of the award."

Meanwhile, Boone raved about the results of laser eye surgery he had performed shortly after the season that will allow him to play without contact lenses.

"It's tremendous," he said. "I couldn't be more excited about it. I had to do something about the contacts, which were an ongoing struggle. I took this route, and so far, I'm nothing but ecstatic about it."


• The Mariners picked Shin-soo Choo of the San Antonio Missions as minor-league player of the year and San Antonio's Felix Hernandez as pitcher of the year.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or