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.

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

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USA TODAY

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

Adam Engel is making the most of his second opportunity with the White Sox.

Engel had his best game of the season in Thursday’s finale against the Minnesota Twins, where he went 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, and two RBIs in the White Sox 9-0 win. He became the first White Sox outfielder with a four-hit game within their first 11 career MLB games since Harold Baines (10th game) on April 20, 1980, according to CSN stats guru Chris Kamka.

"Some days you hit it, some days you don’t," Engel said. "Yesterday was the day that I hit it.”

After nearly a five-hour rain delay, the White Sox came out hot right from the get-go on Thursday. In fact, by the time Engel was ready to bat for the first time, the White Sox were already leading 4-0 and Twins starter Nik Turley had been yanked from the game.

“It was awesome,” Engel. “(The) team is winning, getting some hits. It’s a great feeling. Obviously the goal is to try and help the team win.”

[Vivid Seats: Buy your White Sox tickets here]

Engel made his major league debut on May 27 and then was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on June 9. His wife Jaime had a child on June 12, and almost a week later, he was recalled again by the White Sox to replace an injured Leury Garcia.

Engel, who's hitting .344/.382/.406 entering Friday's game, will look to keep his hot streak going with his wife and newborn in attendance.

Mark Buehrle relishing life after baseball, and his new softball position

Mark Buehrle relishing life after baseball, and his new softball position

Mark Buehrle was known for plenty of things in his 16-year career, whether it was winning 214 games, being a five-time All-Star, throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter, winning a World Series and throwing 200 or more innings in 14 consecutive seasons. 

Now, the 38-year-old is relishing life as a dad and husband. Oh, and as the first baseman and cleanup hitter for his beer league softball team. 

Hey, Buehrle’s probably the only one on the team to hit a home run in the major leagues, in addition to that whole other list of pitching accomplishments. But socking softball dingers hasn’t given Buehrle the itch to get back into baseball, at least not yet. 

“I honestly thought I'd miss it more, the first year at home sitting on the couch and watching games and thinking, 'Man, what am I doing? I probably should still be playing,’” Buehrle said. “But the little ones have kept me busy and the wife's honey do list is not getting any shorter. But no, I enjoy being home and running the kids around and doing all the stuff we're doing. I haven't really missed it at all.”

Buehrle led the American League in complete games in 2015 and finished that year with a 15-8 record and 3.81 ERA, though he fell 1 1/3 innings shy of making it 15 consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched. But he was isolated in Toronto, with his family still in St. Louis, and knew that even though he probably had more left in the tank, he didn’t want to continue playing. 

So Buehrle didn’t have a retirement tour, reportedly turned down some one-year offers and bought an RV after the 2015 season. 

“I was sitting in my apartment too much saying, ‘I’m a family guy, I’m a dad. I’m not a single college student,’” Buehrle said. “That’s what I felt like. I knew I was done that whole year leading up to it. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I wanted to go off in the sunset kind of quiet. I didn’t want all the attention.”

Someday, Buehrle expects he’ll want to get back into the game in some capacity. His kids are eight and nine (going on 10) years old, though, so it probably won’t be anytime soon. Unless you count getting back in the game as playing some beer league softball. 

“Right now we are so busy at home and enjoying that, I wouldn’t want to have to keep leaving again,” Buehrle said. “Eventually I would like to do something to stay involved.”