Ballantini: Happy Easter and happy...49th?

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Ballantini: Happy Easter and happy...49th?

Sunday, April 24, 2011
Posted: 12:46 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROITBaseballs Peter Pan, Omar Vizquel, will celebrate his 44th birthday with a start at second base in the Chicago White Soxs series finale at Comerica Park vs. the Detroit Tigers.

Or, maybe its his 49th? After all, the white board outside of the White Sox clubhouse carried two messages on Sunday: Happy Easter and Happy 49th Omar!

Vizquel, who just yesterday was dancing through the clubhouse with headphones on, slappin the bass while doing a box step, even cutting in on Gordon Beckham and dancing with the good ol boy from Georgia, remains young at heart and sound of body.

Ive been fortunate and lucky, and Ive been doing whats necessary to stay in the game a long time, Vizquel said, sitting still for a moment during a morning of bounding in and out of the clubhouse. I feel fortunate to be here still playing this game. Its been amazing. I would have never believed it. I believe the workouts and training are what brought me here.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, retired for 11 years yet just three years older than Vizquel (and, as he does with everyone, refers to him as this kid), remains in awe of his utility infielder.

He still produces because of commitment, discipline and love and passion for the game, Guillen said. Thats all you can put together for that guy to continue playing the way hes playing. Thats amazing. When you look at a guy with that age, most of the guys are pitchersand they really look old. But this kid, the way he plays, the way he goes about his business. He was blessed by God.

A future Hall-of-Famer who can still roam successfully at shortstop is merely blessed?

Omar is not the type of guy who was gifted with talent, Guillen said. Ive known him for a long, long time, back when he was 16 years old. He worked his way out of Venezuela. Obviously, in the process, he got better and better and better, to place himself as a Hall of Famer.

Guillen described Vizquels fundamentals as poorhe crouches, bends, and fields with a narrow base, contrary to how young players should be trained. But Vizquel has known no other way, working out with great intensity each offseason.

Well, my workouts change every year, he said. You have to work on your resistance, your core, your power. Every year has been an adjustment to how your body is feeling, and the things you need to do to accomplish a goal. Normally, I do an hour or maybe one and a half hours of exercises for three or four days a week. Thats what has kept me in the game.

The main thing for Vizquel, and a reason why the veteran is a good match for the White Sox, is that he still finds the game fun.

It is, he acknowledged. Its crazy, but every Opening Day, I still have the chills every time. This year was special because it was in Cleveland where Vizquel made his fame. Every year on Opening Day I am happy and excited. I am grateful and still have fun thats the main thing.

The last few years when I saw him, hes had more fun in the game because he goes out and plays and laughs, Guillen said. He plays each game like its going to be his last.

Thus, Vizquel sees no reason not to keep playing. A year ago at this time, the veteran was sizing up 2010 as his swan song. But after hitting .276 and playing all three infield positions but first base, Vizquel had a change of heart and in an offseason of prime free agent signs by Chicago, he came first. The infielder has paid off the teams faith, hitting .348 through his first six games and spelling both young, faltering infielders Brent Morel and Gordon Beckham.

As long as my body is OK, performing and doing what I ask it to do, right now theres no reason I cant keep playing, Vizquel said. I am going to keep trying to play. I dont need to be on a table getting massages, or a Jacuzzi, or need a personal trainer with me on the road trip. I dont need any of that stuffI feel I can still do the same things Ive been doing for all these years.

Guillen, por supuesto, is a bit more blunt about Vizquels value.

He saved our ass last year, big time, and continues to do it, he said. I need to put him out there, because starters need a break and he shows up to perform well the way he does. Thats not an easy thing to do.

So, will Vizquel become the majors first 50-year-old utility man?

Vizquel smiled. Who knows?

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

The White Sox have agreed to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations late Monday, according to multiple major league sources.

Bourjos was signed to a minor league contract and invited to camp with the White Sox. He was expected to see a good amount of playing time in center field in the wake of Charlie Tilson’s injury.

Trading Bourjos improves rookie Jacob May’s chances of making the Opening Day roster.

Bourjos, 29, has played for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels over the span of his career. His best season came with the Angels in 2011, when he hit .271 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs. 

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland ended a productive spring with his best outing to date on Monday afternoon.

Healthy and excited to officially kick off his White Sox career, Holland delivered six strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The left-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings pitched, walking two and striking out one. Holland is expected to pitch once more in Milwaukee on Saturday before pitching in the third game of the regular season.

“Definitely feel good,” Holland said. “Feel very confident with everything, very happy with how the spring went. I worked on what we needed to work on to get myself ready for the season and stay healthy and I’m very happy with that. But most of all when you get out there and pitch, the defense, you have to keep them on their toes, and I thought the last out was the perfect example of that.”

Holland was referring to a nice diving catch by Jacob May that prevented at least one run from scoring. The longtime Texas Rangers pitcher was pleased to have established his fastball early and mixed in his offspeed pitches and changeup.

“I wanted to make sure we were going the distance,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to have a setback, and I thought we did a great job.”

The White Sox appear to have narrowly avoided one setback on Monday and are awaiting word on another. An X-ray on the left wrist of infielder Tyler Saladino was negative after he was hit by a pitch while getting in work in a pair of minor-league games. Saladino has been diagnosed with a bruised wrist.

The team is still awaiting word on pitcher Jake Petricka, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand in the seventh inning. Petricka exited the game, got his hand wrapped in ice and left to take an X-ray.

The White Sox are also waiting to learn the results of Carlos Rodon’s second opinion. Rodon was scratched from Friday’s start with a tight bicep tendon and had a physical exam and took an MRI, both of which showed he had no structural damage. Rodon traveled to Los Angeles early Monday for the second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Even if he receives the all clear, the White Sox will remain cautious, manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit,” Renteria said. “It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we’ll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn’t think we’d try to ramp him up quickly.”

The club also expects to have more clarity on the status of right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya on Tuesday. Minaya, who has been out since March 15 with an abdominal tear, was re-evaluated on Monday. Minaya had a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson also had two hits in the White Sox victory and drove in a run. Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer, his first of the spring. Yolmer Sanchez blasted his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot.

Zach Putnam struck out two in a scoreless inning.