Major League Baseball is investigating abuse allegations made against longtime shortstop Omar Vizquel by his ex-wife Blanca, according to The Athletic's Katie Strang and Ken Rosenthal. "While Omar Vizquel has not been employed by a Major League organization for some time, we are aware of the allegations and will continue to look into them," the league told The Athletic in a statement.
Strang and Rosenthal's comprehensive reporting includes an interview with Blanca and friends and neighbors, as well as insight into MLB's probe and past reports from witnesses and police summaries. (Readers should be warned that the article goes into detail about Vizquel's alleged abuse, of both the physical and emotional variety, over a multi-year span.)
On Wednesday evening, Vizquel posted to social media a response to the allegations. The statement reads in full:
"Since the initiation of divorce proceedings with my wife, Blanca Garcia, she has taken to social media and the press to engage in a smear campaign against me designed to put pressure on the legal negotiations. In doing so, she seeks to portray me as someone that I am not. Throughout this unfortunate situation, I have been limited in my public statements, because I don't believe that a public media battle is the way to proceed in the dissolution of our marriage. However, I must set the record straight again in light of today's article in The Athletic.
"Let me be clear and unequivocal. I have never hit or been violent towards my wife, Blanca. Any accusation to the contrary is false. The two incidents described in The Athletic, one in Alabama in 2011 and another in Washington state in 2016, date back years ago and were either dismissed or closed. Blanca herself asked for the dismissal of the Washington case and both of us asserted to Alabama authorities that the 2011 incident was a verbal dispute over differences in our relationship. Furthermore, I have never asked anyone, to remain silent or lie about problems in our relationship. As I have done in the past, I will continue to cooperate with Major League Baseball, on any investigation into these matters.
"It is evident that my marriage to Blanca was not perfect. It was at times tumultuous and difficult. This was due in part to my infidelities which often resulted in verbal disputes among us and am sorry for the pain my indiscretions may have caused. Despite this, I made a good faith effort to improve our relationship, including attending extensive marriage therapy sessions during our time together.
"I have always been supportive of Blanca's professional aspirations, and helpful to her personal struggles, since the moment I met her in 2010 and throughout our marriage. I supported the myriad of professional training courses she took during our marriage. I also guided and accompanied her through multiple visits to her doctors for treatment of her mental health condition that has affected her since before I met her. Her family was always welcomed in our home. In fact, her mother lived with us, and her extended family spent long periods of time residing in our home, including her sister and niece; the same sister who now falsely accuses me of violence against Blanca.
"I never expected this divorce proceeding to play out in public, but I will continue to defend myself and my name against these false accusations. Our divorce should be settled in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion."
The league originally investigated Vizquel, 53, after he was arrested in 2016 over fourth-degree assault. Blanca later dropped those charges, alleging that Vizquel threatened her with financial ruin to force her cooperation. Blanca left Vizquel in August 2020, driving from Arizona to a women's shelter in Texas. She filed for divorce a week later.
Domestic violence victims stay with their abusers for various reasons, including "financial need, lack of another place to go, as well as reported lack of help from law enforcement," according to researchers. Those same factors can cause abuse victims to either not pursue or not proceed with legal action.
Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner who is in his fourth year on the Hall of Fame ballot, has also been investigated by the league for an incident he had with a team employee while managing the Chicago White Sox's Double-A affiliate in Birmingham in 2019. Vizquel lost his job after that season.
(The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233, or by logging onto thehotline.org.)