Yesterday the Blue Jays gave Yunel Escobar his first day off this season and Omar Vizquel got the start at shortstop, making history by becoming the oldest player to ever appear at the position.
Bobby Wallace held the previous mark by appearing in 12 games as a 44-year-old shortstop for the Cardinals in 1918, but Vizquel broke his record by making the start at age 45.
When informed about the record, Vizquel told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that he’s proud of all the hard work that enabled him remain an asset defensively:
When you go back 100 years to look for a record, it is pretty amazing, actually. I can’t believe that I’m still jumping around and playing shortstop at this age. I feel pretty good about myself, I feel pretty good about my physical condition. It hasn’t been a year of work, it has been constantly working out every year, trying to improve your speed or your flexibility. It has been really hard work.
Another way to stay young? Yelling at umpires from the bench until they eject you from a game you’re not even playing. Vizquel had a pretty busy week.
Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.
Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.
Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.
Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.
Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.
As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.
You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.