KANSAS CITY -- Mitch Maier, a dependable and popular backup outfielder for the Royals in 2008-12, has rejoined the organization by signing a Minor League contract with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Maier, 31, played for Triple-A Pawtucket in the Boston system last year and went to Spring Training this year with the Chicago Cubs, but he was released. After that, Maier underwent back surgery for a herniated disc and is currently in a rehabilitation program.
"He's going to rehab at Northwest Arkansas," said Royals assistant general manager/player personnel J.J. Picollo. "We thought it'd give him a chance to get back on the field in the long run. We're probably looking at July or August by the time he's able to be full go, but just with his baseball knowledge and presence, we thought it'd be good to give him that chance and to have our players around him. It's kind of a player-mentor situation."
Maier played most of his Royals games in 2009 and '10. In a total of 360 games over five seasons, he batted .248 with 10 home runs and 93 RBIs. He once played 190 consecutive games without an error. In 2011, Maier was pressed into duty as a pitcher and worked a scoreless inning at Boston.
In 2003, Maier was a first-round pick (30th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Toledo.
"He can help some of our young players while he's rehabbing and we can help him get back on the field, whether it be with us and another club," Picollo said. "It's a win-win for him and for us."
Picollo sees Maier as potential coaching material when his playing days are over.
"It's a good move," manager Ned Yost said. "I love Mitch Maier."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.