2012 Season Will Be the Last for Omar Vizquel
It was bound to happen sooner or later, the ageless wonder known as Omar Vizquel was going to have to call it quits, and on Tuesday afternoon he announced that this season will be his last. At age 45, Omar can still play shortstop, in fact he became the oldest man to ever start a game at the position this season for the Toronto Blue Jays who took a chance on the veteran this offseason and signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Vizquel won a utility job easily, outplaying players half his age and has been an important part of the Blue Jays’ line-up this season. However, Omar has plans beyond the baseball field, and has expressed interest in becoming a coach and eventually a manager. In order to do that he must walk away from the field of play and move into the dugout full time.
Vizquel has played 24 seasons, breaking into the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners before being shipped to the Cleveland Indians where he became a superstar, gold-glove winning wizard at shortstop. Omar spent 10 seasons in an Indians uniform, appeared in 2 World Series with the club in 1995 and 1997, collected 9 gold gloves and was selected to the All-Star Game 3 times. Vizquel went to the Giants following the 2004 season, and spent 4 seasons in San Francisco where he collected 2 more Gold Gloves. By the time Omar left the Giants to go to the Texas Rangers, he was no longer looked at as an everyday player and spent his year in Texas, two seasons in Chicago with the White Sox and this season with the Blue Jays as a bench player starting mostly at third base with an occasional start at second base, shortstop and first base. This season, Omar even took a spot in left field for the Blue Jays when they used a five-man infield against the Indians. It will be interesting to see if Vizquel remains with Toronto for the entire season given his desire for the past few years to be on a club that is a contender so that he has another shot at the World Series title that has eluded him in his long career. Likely candidates for his services would be the White Sox, the Indians, the Cardinals and the Pirates, all of whom could use some added depth to their benches for a push after the trade deadline.
There is much debate as to whether Vizquel will make the Hall of Fame following his retirement. He is sitting at 2,855 hits, so it is very unlikely that he’ll reach the magic plateau of 3,000. He does however have more time in at shortstop than any other player in history, playing 2,704 games so far with half a season to go. His 11 Gold Gloves certainly make a good cause for his election, as does the fact that in 24 years of service he has only committed 187 errors in 2,936 games. Many will argue that he does not have the statistics at the plate to be placed into the hall of fame, but his performance in the field warrants him being elected on his first ballot. Few men have been able to field the shortstop position as amazingly and as effortlessly as Vizquel has, with many of his catches and quick double play turns with the Indians still remaining in highlight films today.
By: Robert Gonzalez
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