February 1 – Happy Birthday Cecilio Guante
Cecilio Guante became a Yankee in one of those “win now, worry about the future later” type deals George Steinbrenner so often pushed and approved during the 1980s. This one took place in November of 1986 and sent future Cy Young Award winner, Doug Drabek along with Brian Fischer and Logan Easley to Pittsburgh for the Pirates’ top starter Rick Rhoden, Guante and a pitcher named Pat Clements. As the Yankees hoped, Rhoden had a good year for New York in ’87, going 16-10 but Guante, who had been a workhorse in Pittsburgh’s bullpen for the previous two seasons, got hurt and then got lost in manager Lou Piniella’s bullpen.
The following year two things happened that impacted Guante’s playing time. Billy Martin took over as Yankee Manager and Dave Righetti, New York’s all-star closer, came down with a tender pitching elbow. Since Rags threw from the left side and Guante was a right-hander, Martin began platooning his closer slot between the two of them to save wear and tear on Righetti’s elbow. For quite a while, the move worked.
Guante was a tall mean-looking guy on the mound who loved to throw inside and up and in to intimidate opposing hitters. He also barely spoke even if spoken to. During the Yankees 1988 spring training camp he did open his mouth but only to request a trade because he did not think he figured in the Yankees’ bullpen plans that season. Righetti’s sore elbow had solved that problem. He started the year off hot and busy, appearing in 25 games during April and May, winning twice and saving five more. But in June he hit a rough patch. Though he saved four games that month he also blew saves in four others. You could actually feel the Yankees’ confidence in the guy eroding with each bad outing and sure enough, before the season was even over they had dealt Guante to Texas for a reliever named Dale Mahorcic. 1988 was also Rick Rhoden’s last year in pinstripes.
Cecilio’s last big league game was in 1990. His career record was 29-34 with 35 saves. He compiled a 3.45 ERA in the 363 games he appeared in during the nine seasons he pitched in the big leagues. Guante was born on February 1, 1960 in the Dominican Republic. He shares his birthday with this former Gold Glove-winning center fielder, this one-time Yankee outfielder and this one too.