Blog Entry

Others retire, but Vizquel goes on and on

Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:06 pm
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada retired. Magglio Ordonez and Pudge Rodriguez are sitting home, waiting for major-league contracts that may never come.

Omar Vizquel is here, in Blue Jays camp, fighting for a job with no guarantees.

He's 44 years old, about to turn 45 next month. He doesn't need this.

Or maybe he does.

"I'm here because I love to play," Vizquel said Thursday morning. "I just love the game."

He's well aware that other players aren't willing to do what he's doing, especially star players. Vizquel was a star, too, an 11-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop (two shy of Ozzie Smith's record of 13).

The irony now is that Vizquel needs to prove himself at shortstop to make the Blue Jays roster. Club officials clearly want him on the team, and see him as a possible mentor to starting shortstop Yunel Escobar, but manager John Farrell said that Vizquel needs to show he still has the arm strength to make the throw from deep in the hole.

"I know what I have to do," he said. "I have to have a solid spring training."

Vizquel understands that he's being asked to prove himself again, but he figures it's worth it for one more shot.

What he doesn't understand is why so many others don't think another year is worth taking a chance.

"You sacrifice a little of your pride," he said. "But I don't know why [others] don't try. If you really feel the energy, why not do it?

"It's weird to see all these guys retire, and I'm still on the field."

He says this year will be it. No, actually he says that this year "probably" will be it.

"I've been saying that the last three years," he admitted.

He already knows what he wants to do next. He turned down a chance to manage in Venezuela over the winter, but he says that managing is in his future.

And not just in Venezuela.

Vizquel would manage there, but eventually he's hoping to manage in the big leagues.

First, though, he's hoping to win a job from a manager he batted against two decades ago. For the record, Vizquel was 4-for-14 against Farrell, with all four hits coming in 1989.

"Yes, I remember," Vizquel said. "Is it funny to play for him now? It's funny to play for anyone. I played for Ozzie [Guillen]. I played for Eric Wedge, and he's younger than me."

Farrell points out that Vizquel helped Elvis Andrus with the Rangers, and Alexei Ramirez with the White Sox. He also points out something that's clear to see, which is that Vizquel is still in great shape.

"He's gained two pounds his entire career," Farrell said. "His body looks just like it did when he was 25."

He's not 25. He's almost 45.

And hoping he's not done yet.

Category: MLB
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