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.