One of three prospects acquired from Houston in the Randy Johnson deal of July 1998, Guillen was hindered by knee problems in his first two seasons with the Mariners. When healthy, the Venezuelan switch-hitter was forced to man unfamiliar territory at second and third with perennial All-Star Alex Rodriguez ensconced at short. But A-Rod moved to Texas after the 2000 season, allowing Guillen to move back to his natural position and turn in a solid campaign in his first injury-free season with the club.
The highlight of Guillen’s young career came in Game Three of the 2000 ALDS, when he laid down a perfect bunt in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Rickey Henderson and complete the Mariners’ sweep of the White Sox. Nobody noticed that Guillen’s front foot was on home plate at the time, an infraction that should have resulted in an automatic out.