Guiel returns to Royals ... as player-coach

Guiel returns to Royals ... as player-coach

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A familiar face, Aaron Guiel, is back in Royals camp on the Minor League side.

"I have a player-coach contract, with the emphasis on coach," Guiel said. "They allowed me to do this so I could get back into the fold again, because ultimately, I want to get into the coaching side of things."

Guiel, a genial blond-haired outfielder, spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Royals, 2002-06, reaching the Majors after nearly a decade in the Minors. The Royals plucked him from the obscurity of Oaxaca in the Mexican League in 2000 (he had 22 homers and a .365 average in 56 games), and he did well enough at Triple-A Omaha to win his way to Kansas City.

In 2006, the Yankees claimed him on waivers from the Royals, and he spent half of that season with New York. Then came five years with the Yakult Swallows in Tokyo, where he was called "Angel" and hit 35 homers in 2007 and 27 in '09. Injuries cut into his last two seasons, and at 39, he's back home.

"When you go to Japan, you feel like you're out of sight, out of mind," Guiel said. "So I finished playing in October. This last year was quite a tough year for me, because I had back surgery 12 months ago. My body wasn't healing the way it was, so in midsummer, I realized that this was probably going to be my last year, so I just started making calls to different guys to see what opportunity might be out there."

General manager Dayton Moore signed him to a Royals contract to see how he might fit into the organization.

"No pressure. The teams have their staff," Guiel said. "I can just move around and learn from the guys that are in charge of those teams. There's a different style of coaching that [Omaha manager Mike] Jirschele will do with the older guys than somebody will do in [Rookie level] Burlington. I'll have to learn how to do that, but I'm excited about it."

Guiel can draw from the experience gained in 2,026 games played over 19 years in the Minors, Majors and Japan.