Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: The Curious Case of Omar Vizquel

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Sox Drawer: The Curious Case of Omar Vizquel

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011
Posted 7:44 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz - In life, there is something called an aging process. Its a pretty simple concept that is shared by every single human being walking the planet.

Well, except for one person: Omar Vizquel.

The 43-year-old infielder, who turns 44 in April, is here at Camelback Ranch not just defying the odds, but quite possibly modern science as we know it.

Im getting older and older, and I question myself, 'How long is it going to be and when will it be the time? Vizquel said in front of his locker, a wide, childish smile beeming from his face. So far so good.

Vizquel has come so far, and been so good for 22 seasons, putting together a Hall of Fame worthy career that seems to have no end.

Some might say he drinks from the Fountain of Youth - I disagree. Upon closer examination, Im pretty sure he bathes in it.

You just have to admire how hes gone about it for all these years, said White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, whose first order of business during the off-season was signing Vizquel to a second one-year contract. Hell, I played against him. I havent played in 17 years!

How long has Vizquel been in the majors? Heres an indication:

The year he entered the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners in 1989, George Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan as President, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and Gordon Beckham turned three years old.

You talk about a guy who loves the game, Beckham said. Him being around just makes people better because of what he brings to the game, the energy he brings to the game. I mean hes 43, about to turn 44, and hes got more energy than anybody in here.

I like to have fun with Vizquels knack of staying so young, often comparing him to the main character in the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," about a man who magically aged backwards.

So I posed this question to Omar: Is everyone around you getting older, and youre somehow getting younger?

Inside Im not getting older. Inside, Im still the same kid that likes to dive for balls and play with dirt and be fooling around with the kids. Obviously biology tells me something different. Its like your conscience is telling you that you cant do the things you were doing 10 years ago.

But last year seemed to tell him otherwise. He batted .276 in 108 games, collecting the most runs, hits, doubles, RBIs and stolen bases since 2007. Plus, the 11-time Gold Glove winner made only three errors in the field while playing second base, third base and shortstop.

Omar takes great care of himself, and hes kind of an artist out there, Williams said. Hes the piano player whos never going to lose the touch of the keys.

Well put.

My hands are the one thing that has kept me in the game for a long time, Vizquel explained. As long as my legs are able to reach and jump and do the crazy stuff that the infielders do, I have a chance to make the team.

Something tells me he will.

But how much longer can he keep playing? When I asked him if he can go another three or four years, he joked, I dont even know about next week! At this point, hes taking it year-by-year, and is not looking too far ahead.

However, there is a certain milestone that is stored in the back of his mind and is possibly within reach. Vizquel is closing in on 3,000 career hits, a monumental number for a major league player, often a necessary key in gaining entrance to the Hall of Fame.

Youre about 200 hits away, right? a reporter asked.

201, Vizquel quickly answered with a laugh.

Will he get there?

Knowing Omar, it's only a matter of time.

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

Minor league notes: Eloy Jimenez isn't 'going to throw' away his opportunity

Minor league notes: Eloy Jimenez isn't 'going to throw' away his opportunity

A strong work ethic is one reason the White Sox are very excited about the possibilities that Eloy Jimenez presents.

Not only is the Double-A Birmingham outfielder extremely talented, he accompanies it with nonstop work. Jimenez’s Winston-Salem teammates and coaches praised the youngster for the serious effort he puts forth in the batting cage. One White Sox staffer watched Jimenez in batting practice last Sunday — he slugged more than 850 feet worth of home runs the night before — and noted how the No. 7 prospect in baseball was working on hitting curveballs. Jimenez said cage work is a vital part of his everyday routine.

“The most important thing before the game for me is to get in the cage, do my work, do my thing,” Jimenez said. “That is the biggest thing for me. I think that has worked for me in the game. That’s why I’m working hard every day in the cages.

“It’s time to go to work. I joke outside the cage but inside the cage I’m just thinking what I’m going to do. What is the spot I do damage? What is the spot I need to work more? That is the time for that I feel.”

Jimenez said his parents — mother Adelaida Solano, father Luis Jimenez and “baseball dad” Amauris Nina — instilled in him a strong work ethic. Though he believes he’s talented, Jimenez thinks it would only take him so far and wants to do everything he can to become a major leaguer.

“My dad all the time says if you want to be the best you need to work like you want to be the best,” Jimenez said. “All the time my mom said if you’re going to do something, do what you love and work hard for that.

“(Amauris) says you need to work like you don’t have anything, like nobody knows you. Work like that. No matter what they tell you outside the field, you need to work every day.

“If God gave me the opportunity I’m not going to throw it away. I’m just going to work hard to be one of the best players in baseball.”

Clarkin keeps busy

Winston-Salem pitcher Ian Clarkin hopes to return sooner than later from a strained right oblique that has kept him sidelined since July 23. Acquired from the Yankees on July 18, Clarkin has been on the disabled list since Aug. 1.

Along with his rehab work, one way the right-hander — the No. 23 prospect in the organization — has kept busy by growing a mustache. Clarkin has also paired up with Dash outfielder Jameson Fisher, the No. 26 prospect, to receive tips on how to grow and maintain it. Fisher has an 80-grade mustache on the 20-80 scouting scale and the two have lockers next to one another. But Clarkin isn’t very satisfied with his soup strainer, which has been growing for three weeks.

“This is a weird phase I’m going through,” Clarkin said. “Nothing growing in the middle, I need to do something.

“I gotta figure out what we’re doing. I like it, but we’re in a weird phase.”

Say, that’s not …

Jake Peter has done his best Yoan Moncada impersonation since he was promoted last month, including wearing the White Sox second baseman’s No. 10 at Triple-A Charlotte. Peter entered Sunday hitting .306/.358/.495 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 120 plate appearances at Charlotte. He was the organization’s co-minor league player of the month in July with Jimenez.

“He’s a great ballplayer,” Double-A manager Julio Vinas said of Peter. “He’s a grinder and he gives you everything he has got. He was having quality AB s and he’s got so many tools. What’s great about him is anywhere you put him he plays solid defense.”

Peter is in his fourth season with the organization after the White Sox drafted him in the seventh round in the 2014 draft out of Creighton. He’s excited by the influx of talent and said it should create good competition with the players who were already here.

“We’re seeing all the great players coming in, and all of the great players we’ve already had it’s just going to make us better because it will create more competition and make us push each other,” Peter said.

Polo on the mark

Don’t overlook Tito Polo because he was the third minor leaguer to come over in the Yankees deal and currently isn’t part of MLB.com’s top-30 organizational prospect list. That’s the advice of Double-A announcer Curt Bloom, who calls Polo a strong defender, and Clarkin, who played with the center fielder for part of the 2016 season at Single-A Tampa.

“Tito has an unbelievable amount of talent and people are going to be surprised what he has in store,” Clarkin said. “He’s a good hitter, he can hit for power, he runs really well, he has a great arm and he’s a good defensive player, which everyone saw in the WBC. He’s going to surprise a lot of people with his talent.” 

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut will be pushed back as club makes rotation changes

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USA TODAY

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut will be pushed back as club makes rotation changes

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut will be pushed back a day.

Originally scheduled to start Monday, Giolito will make his team debut on Tuesday now, manager Rick Renteria said on Saturday. Giolito will take Reynaldo Lopez's place in the rotation as he recovers from a strained back.

The White Sox also made some other pitching rotation changes.

Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer will be the two starters for Monday's doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. Renteria said that Fulmer — who will be making his season debut — will serve as the 26th man and then head back to Triple-A Charlotte.

In 24 starts this season with the Knights, the 23-year-old prospect is 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA and 95 strikeouts.