Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: Retire not in Vizquel's vocabulary

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Sox Drawer: Retire not in Vizquel's vocabulary

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

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jeff Passan explains why White Sox have the best farm system in baseball

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jeff Passan explains why White Sox have the best farm system in baseball

After speaking with 24 people in baseball (GMs, farm directors and scouts), Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports made a conclusion: the White Sox have the best farm system in baseball. On the podcast, Chuck Garfien speaks with Passan about his specific findings and how the next few years might play out for the franchise.

How many of the White Sox prospects have to be a success for the rebuild to work? Will Michael Kopech or Alec Hansen have the better major league career? Will the Cubs one day regret trading Eloy Jimenez? Will the White Sox be willing to spend big money to land a player like Manny Machado? Who will be the White Sox closer in 2019? Who might the White Sox draft in 2018?

The answers to these questions and many others on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

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.”