After flying into town Friday afternoon, Guardado had barely walked into the visitors' clubhouse before he encountered Joe Mays and Eric Milton, who offered hugs and handshakes. Later, Javier Valentin surprised Guardado from behind with a very hard slap on his bare back.
All three players are former Twins teammates. Rich Aurilia, a former teammate in Seattle, also said hello.
"It's going to be fun," said Guardado, who had spent his whole career in the American League. "We're going to have some fun. I like to have fun."
Now, Guardado gets a new beginning, too. The left-hander lost his closer's job in Seattle to J.J. Putz in May and was not happy in a middle relief/setup role. Although he did not complain publicly about the demotion, he admitted that the uncertainty of when he'd be used was an issue. He also missed the added pressure of working the ninth inning.
"It wasn't the same, to be honest with you," said Guardado of his most recent role. "I pitch with a lot of emotion. I need that edge. I don't blow people away, but I do throw strikes and keep the ball down. Hopefully, it works out."
Guardado was 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA and five saves in 28 appearances with this season, his third with Seattle. The 35-year-old joins the Reds with 175 career saves, including a career-high 45 with the Twins in 2002. He pitched in Minnesota from 1993-2003 and earned the nickname "Everyday Eddie."
"My job is to go out there and hopefully close out that game when we're ahead," Guardado said. "Whatever happens that night, good or bad, I will never have a complaint about anything. I'll take the blame for anything, whatever it is. I'm a standup guy. Hopefully, it's always good."
As Guardado unpacked his belongings, pitcher Michael Gosling was packing up his stuff a few lockers down, because he was optioned back to Triple-A Louisville to make room on the roster.
"I got to see Atlanta. I've never been here before," Gosling said. "That's a silver lining."
It was the second time this season that Gosling's recall to the Majors lasted all of one game. The lefty pitched 1 1/3 innings on April 19 before he was sent back. He saw no action in Thursday's game but remained positive about his whirlwind journey.
"I don't think I'm at the point in my career where I can ever complain about getting called up to the Major Leagues, no matter how short the stay," said Gosling, who is 4-4 with a 4.15 ERA in 13 starts for Louisville. "Obviously, I do hope that at some point that I get called up and get to stay awhile."
This will be the rotation order coming out of the All-Star break: Aaron Harang will start Thursday against the Rockies and be followed by Eric Milton, Bronson Arroyo and Elizardo Ramirez. The fifth spot will be skipped because of a July 17 day off and won't come up again until July 22 against the Brewers.
Who gets to make that start from the fifth spot remained uncertain.
Mays, who was touched up for six earned runs over 5 1/3 innings against Atlanta on Thursday, is tentatively scheduled. Left-handed starter Brandon Claussen (tendinitis in his left shoulder) is scheduled to begin his rehabilitation assignment at Louisville on Sunday and could be activated from the disabled list by then.
After a solid six-inning first start for Cincinnati on June 21 at New York, Mays has surrendered 14 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings over his last two starts. With the Royals and Reds this season, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 8.43 ERA.
Mays planned to be available for long relief out of the bullpen until his next start. But that's the only thing he can expect at this point.
"We'll have to play it by ear and see what happens," Mays said. "It's not my choice. Obviously, I haven't given them a whole lot the last two starts to really solidify anything."
Reliever Grant Balfour, working his way back from elbow and shoulder surgeries, threw 35 pitches over a two-inning simulated game at Louisville on Friday. Balfour is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment on Monday with Class A Dayton.
Right-handed starter Paul Wilson, also working back from shoulder surgery, threw 94 pitches over six simulated innings at Louisville. Wilson is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Sunday in Cincinnati.
Guardado wore No. 18 during his stops with both the Twins and Mariners. Since that number was retired for Ted Kluszewski by Cincinnati, the reliever was issued No. 45.
Harang (9-5, 3.65 ERA) will start Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET against Atlanta ace John Smoltz (5-5, 3.77).