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Dobbs recalls Guardado's guitar joke

Dobbs recalls Guardado's guitar joke

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ARLINGTON -- Greg Dobbs dashed to the guitar-shaped box resting in his locker at Tropicana Field. Eager to strum the newly purchased Fender acoustic, his first such musical instrument, he didn't notice the package had already been emptied of its contents.

Without time to begin an investigation, Mariners teammate Randy Winn hurried up to him, with a worried expression.

"You better get out there," Winn told Dobbs that day in 2005. "Eddie's up to something."

Eddie was former Mariners closer Guardado, a notorious practical joker who never missed a chance to make someone suffer for the amusement of others, especially a rookie. Dobbs' face grew ashen. This could be bad.

On the field, Dobbs watched in horror as Guardado clutched a guitar like a baseball bat. Fifty feet away, reliever Jeff Nelson stood before a bucket of balls. The first one whizzed by, and Guardado took it for ball one.

"Are you going to apologize?" Guardado yelled, referring to a few days earlier, when Dobbs dumped Flexall gel in the tub while Guardado was in it, not a good combination when mixed with water.

"'No, we're even,'" Dobbs said, recalling his response. Dobbs thought they were square after Guardado dressed him like a female police officer the previous year and had been riding him ever since. "Eddie didn't see it that way. Nelson's next pitch went through the guitar."

As the shattered guitar and its owner sat on the field, Guardado shot Dobbs an evil look.

"Payback's [rough], ain't it?" he said.

Of course, the smashed guitar wasn't the one purchased by Dobbs, as Guardado intercepted the delivery and sent a clubbie to purchase a replica from a pawn shop. The beauty in the prank, said Guardado, now a Rangers reliever, was letting Dobbs stew for "a few days."

"It was a couple of days before I told him," said Guardado, laughing as if it happened yesterday. "They were telling me I had to break it to him, because he was miserable. I told him would pay for it. It didn't matter."

Dobbs thought they were even.

"Why?" Guardado said. "When you're a young guy, you're never even with a veteran player."

Dobbs understands he's one in a long list of players to have been victimized by Guardado, the dean of baseball's practical jokesters, who's provided 13 years of punch lines. He once put itching powder in Cristian Guzman's pants and peanut butter in David Ortiz's street clothes. He's burned players' shoes and makes various prank calls.

"I'm going to hide my clothes," said J.C. Romero, a teammate of Guardado's in Minnesota.

Did he ever get Romero?

"Oh yeah, and he knew I had a bad temper back in the day, too," Romero said. "He dressed me up when I was a rookie. I looked like a version of Chyna, the wrestler. That was embarrassing. It was cold, too. I had a yellow and green skirt, and he said, 'You ain't that tough now, buddy.' It was all fun."

Guardado chuckled again, too, saying that was one of his better outfits.

There's a process involved in pulling off a practical joke, such as making Dobbs believe that his beloved new guitar was really in danger. Guardado did this by enlisting Winn, one of the more trusted guys in the game.

Dobbs said he wouldn't have believed if Winn hadn't "sold it."

"A small, but pivotal role," Winn said, fearing he'd be next if he didn't help. "I wasn't involved in the planning. I was just the man to relay the message."

Winn also took part in the "Oh, that's mean" chimes that fed Dobbs' anger for two days, until the real guitar showed up in Dobbs' locker.

He still has it, by the way, and thinks of that day whenever he plays it.

"I can't forget thinking that my new guitar, that I had never seen before and had been waiting so long for, was smashed to a million pieces before my eyes," Dobbs said. "It was devastating."

Hearing that Dobbs still has his guitar, Guardado relayed a message.

"Tell him to keep it away from me," he said.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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