Omar Vizquel has hinted at the likelihood several times, but he made it clear today that this is his final season in the majors.
NESN has the translated quotes:
“This will be my last year,” Vizquel said in Spanish. “I’ve enjoyed this game a lot, but I think it’s time to pursue a new career as a coach or manager, and hopefully I’ll get that opportunity in the future.”
Vizquel said his initial plan is to coach in Venezuela this winter and that he eventually hopes to be a major league manager.
As has been clear for some time, Vizquel will fall short of 3,000 career hits; he’s at 2,854 right now. Still, whether one believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame or not, he has had an incredible career. When he arrived at age 22, he was such a weak hitter that most were skeptical he’d last as a regular. Instead, he turned himself into an All-Star in his 30s and then, through remarkable fitness, remained a viable shortstop into his 40s.
Vizquel will retire as an 11-time Gold Glover and the all-time leader in career games at shortstop. He ranks second among active players in hits, seventh in runs scored and fifth in steals.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.