Jose Guzman showed flashes of great talent throughout his truncated major-league years, but his constant injuries combined with streaks of poor outings made for a mediocre career.
Guzman displayed promise with the Texas Rangers with a 1987 record of 14-14 with 143 strikeouts. In 1988, he lowered his ERA almost a full run to 3.70, and appeared due for a breakthrough season. But it was the next year that his nagging shoulder injuries would begin.
It may have been because of his wickedly effective split-fingered fastball laying constant stress on his shoulder that he would succumb to three shoulder injuries in three separate years. Whatever it was, Guzman first felt sharp pain in his right shoulder towards the end of 1988. In the offseason he had minor shoulder surgery, and expected to be in fine shape for 1989. However, he landed on the DL in spring training with a torn rotator cuff, and underwent surgery later that season. He ended up missing the entire year and almost all of the next. Towards the end of 1990, he pitched adequately in ten rehabilitation games in the minors, giving hope for the following year.
Guzman staged a surprising comeback in 1991, going 13-7 with a 3.08 ERA for the Rangers while striking out 125 in 169.2 innings pitched. The next year was perhaps more impressive, as the right-hander tossed 224 innings for 16 wins. That was two years in a row Guzman’s shoulder held up, and he entered the free-agent market in October 1992. By December he had signed a four-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
As it turned out, a long-term deal with Guzman wasn’t the wisest of options for the Northsiders. After the 1993 campaign in which he went 12-10 with a 4.34 ERA, Guzman went to the DL in April 1994, and stayed on it for the rest of the season. At the end of 1994, he had a bone spur removed from his right shoulder, and suffered from postoperative problems for the next year and a half. The Cubs finally gave up, releasing him in June 1996.
Guzman then tried one last return to the majors with his original team in 1998. After spring training, he was assigned to Triple-A, but once again developed an arm problem — tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Guzman took the hint, and on March 29, 1998 retired from baseball for good.