TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Neifi Perez agreed Tuesday to return to the Colorado Rockies on a minor league contract, a goodwill gesture for one of the more popular players in club history.
Perez could earn $1 million if he makes the 40-man roster and earns significant playing time, but the odds of that are slim because the organization is loaded with young, talented infielders; the Rockies already have two candidates in Clint Barmes and Omar Quintanilla to replace Jamey Carroll as their utility infielder.
``Maybe it's something that he's got the ability to help us at some point, but we'd have to see him play,'' assistant general manager Bill Geivett said. ``Neifi has always been very popular with our fans and very popular with people in the organization at all levels.''
Perez will report to the club's minor league complex later this week. If he were to make the 40-man roster, Perez would earn $750,000. He can make up to $250,000 in performance bonuses, earning the full amount if he plays in 120 games.
Perez won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 2000 with the Rockies but has bounced around the major leagues ever since, playing for the Royals, Giants, Cubs and Tigers.
``For me the most meaningful production he brought here was the way he embraced our young Latin players,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ``So, if there's such a thing as payback or throwing a guy a lifeline, he's be one we're comfortable doing it with.''
The only player suspended by baseball for stimulants since they were banned before the 2006 season, Perez has 18 games remaining on his 80-game suspension he received last season after testing positive for a third time.
``This will give Neifi a chance to go out and show where he is athletically,'' Hurdle said. ``This might help him, get him back in some comfortable surroundings after going through a great deal of adversity.''
Perez hit just .172 with one homer and six RBIs in 64 at-bats for the Tigers last season, and his biggest contribution was when he started a spectacular double play to end the eighth inning of Justin Verlander's no-hitter.
Notes: The Rockies' starting lineup for their exhibition opener, which was posted in the clubhouse Tuesday, features a flip-flop of No. 3 hitter Matt Holliday and cleanup hitter Todd Helton. Also, 2B candidate Marcus Giles will serve as the DH against the White Sox with rookie Jayson Nix getting the nod at second.
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