CINCINNATI (AP) -Eleven months after he got his pitching elbow rebuilt, veteran lefty Eddie Guardado is back in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen.
The former closer was activated Tuesday as part of the team's latest move to improve the NL's worst bullpen. The Reds also recalled right-hander Gary Majewski from the minors and optioned rookie left-hander Jon Coutlangus to Triple-A Louisville.
Meanwhile, outfielder Ryan Freel went on the 15-day disabled list and was scheduled for knee surgery that could sideline him for the rest of the season.
Also, infielder Juan Castro had reconstructive elbow surgery on Tuesday. Castro had a partially torn ligament in his right elbow and had anticipated surgery for the last few weeks.
The 36-year-old Guardado had hoped to be back by the All-Star break, but developed stiffness in his left forearm while pitching in the minors last month. The setback slowed his comeback, which was still ahead of schedule.
``I just feel relieved, actually,'' Guardado said. ``I didn't think this day would ever come. It felt like a century.''
The closer once known as ``Everyday Eddie'' for his durability will have to take it easy for the rest of the season. David Weathers is the closer now, and the Reds are going to try to break in Guardado slowly to see how his elbow reacts.
``I just want to get him through his first inning, see how it looks and go from there, see how he reacts,'' interim manager Pete Mackanin said. ``We'll see how he's going to fit in, see if he's going to be able to help.''
The bullpen can use a lot of help. Its collective 5.00 earned run average going into Tuesday was the worst in the National League. Aside from Weathers, no one else has been consistent.
General manager Wayne Krivsky tried to fix the problems last year with a midseason, eight-player trade with Washington. Majewski, who was one of the key acquisitions, hasn't done much because of shoulder problems.
He opened the season on the disabled list and was added to the roster on May 24. He went 0-1 with a 15.88 ERA in 10 games before being sent down to figure out why his sinker was staying straight.
Majewski experimented with his grip on several pitches and started getting better results. He also shaved his goatee and cut his shoulder-length hair for the first time in about four years.
``Needed something new, just to change it up a little bit,'' he said.
The moves left the Reds with 13 pitchers - five other NL teams also have that number. Mackanin expects the Reds to go back to a dozen pitchers soon.
The large number is largely a function of the bullpen's ineffectiveness.
``It's just to be on the safe side to protect what we have in the bullpen and not have to use the guys I want to use to hold a lead in a close game,'' Mackanin said. ``We can use the other people when we're behind big or way ahead, and save those (other) guys for the close games.''
Freel has torn cartilage in his right knee, which has bothered him for a while. He said doctors aren't sure whether they can easily remove a bone spur and fix the cartilage damage, or whether the operation on Wednesday will have to be more extensive.
If it's more extensive, his disappointing season will have a downbeat finish.
Freel opened the season as the starting center fielder, but struggled at the plate and missed 30 games with a concussion after running into a teammate while catching a fly ball. He's hitting .245 with three homers and 16 RBIs.
``It's been a disappointment for me - hurt half the year and didn't play as well as you'd have liked to, and the team hasn't done as well as you expected,'' Freel said. ``It could have been a lot better. This was a bad-luck season, I guess.''

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