White Sox

Sox Drawer: Retire not in Vizquel's vocabulary


Sox Drawer: Retire not in Vizquel's vocabulary

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 9:19 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien

KANSAS CITY -- When were born into this world, theres a reality we cant ignore.

We all get older. It happens to everybody.

Well, almost everybody. Theres one exception.

His name is Omar Vizquel.

At 44 years old, the longtime veteran has defied the odds of baseball and modern science by playing 23 years in the majors. His first season was way back in 1989, the same year the White Sox drafted Frank Thomas. The Big Hurt retired three years ago.

Vizquel? Hes still here, and he doesnt want to leave.

Speaking before Thursdays game against the Royals, the White Sox ageless infielder said he wants to play another season--at least.

I would love to have the opportunity to play another year, Vizquel said. I think I have the ability to play. I dont think theres much difference between me and the other guys on teams. Im not expecting to play every day, but I think I can still play.

Well have to take him at his word, because unlike last season when Vizquel played a ton as a reserve (108 games and 344 at-bats), Vizquel has barely seen the field in 2011 (just 57 games and 163 at-bats).

Thats been the tough part, sometimes being on the bench for about three weeks in a row, and you havent played much, Vizquel said. This is the first time that my time off the field has been really long. I dont mind. Im ready whenever they ask me to play. I know Ozzie Guillen is not very good at letting me play when the game is wide-open. He doesnt like that. But whatever he asks me to do, Ill do it.

Vizquel would like to come back for another season on the South Side. He likes the city, the stadium, and his teammates. But with the White Sox not making the playoffs despite sky-high expectations, he sees the writing on the wall.

Changes are coming, players are going, and Vizquel thinks hell be one of them.

Obviously when you dont win, you have to make changes. Thats probably one of the reasons I doubt that Im going to be here next year, Vizquel said. But whatever happens, Ill be ready. Im going to be looking for a job.

Sitting on the bench for 23 of the last 26 games, Vizquel has been looking at something else: plenty of slouching going on by some of his teammates and opponents. Its irked Omar so much that its inspired him to keep playing, not just for his love of the game, but for the game itself.

I feel 35 (years old). I look at players on this team right now that are around that age or less. You look at them playing, and its made me want to play more because the body language is not what youd like to see. I dont think I have that kind of body language and I dont like to show it even if Im tired. That is why I want to continue, Vizquel said. I feel great. I have a lot of energy. I still have the passion, and I still have the legs. Thats the main reason why.

I asked Vizquel if he thought players were just wearing down from a long, unsuccessful season.

I dont think theyre tired. Maybe they are. Obviously people get tired during the season, but just the way they take the field or carry themselves. You dont only see that on this team, you see it on a lot of teams. They dont have that spark. That energetic movement.

Many expected the White Sox to contend in 2011. Clearly that hasnt happened. Instead, its been an up-and-down rollercoaster from the very beginning. Through it all, Vizquel has had a front row seat either on the bench or on the field.

What has he seen?

I was expecting better results just like everybody else. I dont know who to blame. You got to blame yourself as a player because youre supposed to do something more than you do. Sure there are a couple guys having great years, but as a unit, I dont think we looked really good at all this year. Maybe we looked good in a series or two, but then it was really inconsistent baseball through the whole thing.

For 23 straight seasons, one thing has been consistent in baseball: Omar Vizquel.

Hopefully it stays that way. As for the White Sox?

I want to be back. I would love to. Lets see what happens.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again? 'I think my time's going to come up, maybe'


Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again? 'I think my time's going to come up, maybe'

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again?

He was the guy who helped bring a World Series championship to the South Side in 2005 hasn't been a big league skipper since 2012, in his one ill-fated season managing the Miami Marlins. But his name has come up as a social-media suggestion for open jobs for years, including just two winters ago when the White Sox needed to replace Robin Ventura.

But Guillen, who spent eight seasons as the White Sox manager, said on the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast that he hasn't interviewed for any jobs since leaving the Marlins and discussed the trend of hiring young managers who just recently finished their playing careers.

"A couple tried, not to interview me but say, 'Can we talk to you about it?' And I knew I'm not going to be the manager of that team," Guillen told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien. "When you look at the manager list, you're going to interview me and you have kid, kid, kid, kid, kid, Ozzie. What's the chance I'm going to manage that team? None. 'Thank you for thinking about me,' and it's cool.

"I've known I'm not going to be the guy because the list. Before, they interview you for a managing job, it's two or three or four guys. Now they've got 30. Nowadays, it's harder to become a manager than win the World Series. Because there are so many interviews.

But does that mean he'll never manage again?

"I think my time's going to come up, maybe," Guillen said. "I always think about (former Florida Marlins manager) Jack McKeon. Jack McKeon was out of baseball for 30 years and all of a sudden came out and won the World Series (in 2003). ... I hope I don't die before that. Jack was 70-plus when he was managing. But we'll see."

Guillen talked about his hopes to be more involved in the White Sox organization after the way his tenure ended back in 2011, saying he hopes to be at spring training with the team one day.

"I'd like to go to spring training with them, that's the first time I'm going to say that, just because I see everybody in baseball, they're bringing former players to the field," he said. "But the problem is, I go there, here we go. 'Why is it ... you're coming here?'

"I don't (want to be a distraction), and I never will be."

Hear more of Garfien's interview with Guillen on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Avisail Garcia was great last year for the White Sox.

But does that mean he's a long-term part of this rebuilding team or a potential trade piece?

How Garcia follows things up in 2018 will go a long way in determining the answer to that question, as well as a perhaps more pressing one: Will Garcia still be on the White Sox when the 2018 campaign comes to a close?

Whatever your scouting-eye impressions might have been, statistically, Garcia was one of baseball's best hitters last season. He ranked second in the American League with a .346 batting average. Only league MVP Jose Altuve ranked above Garcia. The White Sox right fielder also ranked sixth in the AL with a .380 on-base percentage. His .885 OPS ranked in the top 10 in the Junior Circuit.

It was the much-anticipated breakout for a guy who's had big expectations ever since he hit the bigs as a 21-year-old in 2012, when he carried a pressure-packed comparison to Detroit Tigers teammate and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. After coming to the South Side in a mid-2013 trade, his first three seasons were impacted by injuries and featured an unimpressive .250/.308/.380 slash line with only 32 homers in 314 games.

But last season, that all changed. He had a career year, slashing .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers, 80 RBIs, 27 doubles and 171 hits. Garcia was named to the AL All-Star team and established himself as the second best hitter on a team where the best hitter, Jose Abreu, is one of baseball's most productive and most consistent.

So can he do it again? That remains to be seen, of course. The scale of the improvements in so many statistical categories make one think that Garcia being able to do it two years in a row would almost be as surprising or more surprising than him doing it just once.

But if Garcia can repeat his performance, at least in the season's first few months, he could potentially draw the eyes of numerous contending teams looking for a bat to add to their lineups. One season of production perhaps wasn't enough to demand the kind of return package Rick Hahn's front office got in return for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana. But a few good months at the outset of 2018 could draw plenty of interest, making the question of whether Garcia will stay in a White Sox uniform for the entirety of the season a valid one.

All that being said, Garcia's situation — he's under team control for two more seasons — allows the White Sox to be flexible. Garcia's still young, entering his age-27 season. The White Sox could opt to keep a talented hitter, extend him and make him a part of the rebuilding effort, penciling him into the lineup of the future alongside younger hitters like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Or they could wait to move him, perhaps next offseason or at the 2019 trade deadline.

But Garcia's performance will dictate how viable each of those options ends up being. He finally put it all together in 2017. In 2018, he'll have to keep it all together.