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Ducks sign Vlad Guerrero, Dontrelle Willis and Ramon Castro

Guerrero was released by the Blue Jays on

Guerrero was released by the Blue Jays on June 12. Credit: Getty

The Long Island Ducks have had their share of big names in the past -- John Rocker, Carl Everett, Edgardo Alfonzo, Juan Gonzalez -- but none as accomplished as Vladimir Guerrero.

The signing of the 2004 American League MVP and potential Hall of Famer on Thursday was the start of the Ducks' three-day shopping spree. They also added former Marlins star pitcher Dontrelle Willis and former Mets backup catcher Ramon Castro.

In his 16-year career with the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles, Guerrero collected 2,590 hits and 449 home runs, including 44 in 2000. In 2002, he led the National League with 206 hits. 

He appeared in nine All-Star Games and earned more than $125 million in salary.

"He can still hit. I'm pretty sure Vladimir is always going to be able to hit," said former Mets general manager Omar Minaya, who also was Guerrero's boss for a time in Montreal. "If he's playing, it's because he feels he can still play."

Last season, Guerrero played 12 games in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor-league system before asking for and being granted his release in June when he wasn't promoted. He was hitting .358 with four home runs and 12 RBIs at the time.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity the Long Island Ducks have given me as I try to make it back to the big leagues," Guerrero said in a statement.

Minaya said he expects Guerrero's stint with the Ducks to generate interest.

"Some scouts that I know that I talked to about their teams, some American League teams, talked about signing him," said Minaya, now the Padres' senior vice president of baseball operations.

Maybe if the Ducks are lucky, Vlad's mom, Altagracia Alvino, will visit him at Bethpage Ballpark.

She began visiting her son to cook for him in 1997, when Guerrero became a full-time major-leaguer with the Expos. While with the Angels, Vlad and his mom often brought containers of Dominican food to the stadium to share with Guerrero's teammates.

Guerrero, who could not be reached for comment, has a spiritual background. Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times once described him as "a God-fearing, Bible-toting mama's boy."

Mike Scioscia, his former manager with the Angels, once referred to him as "the most unassuming superstar I've ever seen."

Even if Guerrero's stay on Long Island is temporary, it satisfies the Ducks' desire to balance winning games with putting on a show for fans.

"You see players of this caliber for $10 tickets and free parking," Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said, "when maybe two years ago, when Vladimir played for the Orioles, you paid $50 for parking at Yankee Stadium and got in for $250 a ticket."

When asked about major league general managers' perception of the Atlantic League, Minaya said it serves as a forum for players with hopes of returning to the game's highest level to showcase their abilities.

"I view the league as a positive," Minaya said. "They're minor leagues. They have some veteran players. It's good baseball, it's good fans, they have a great organization there. It's good that Vladimir is there; somebody will see him. If he's healthy and he's moving around OK, I think somebody might be interested."

Until that happens, the Ducks will get a big bat and a big name that has generated a buzz with Opening Day less than two weeks away.

New York Sports