Vizquel fired up to manage White Sox's Class A Winston-Salem farm team
Much has changed since Omar Vizquel's last tour of duty with the Chicago White Sox.
Before the 2010 season, Vizquel was a 43-year-old free agent, and he signed a one-year contract with the Sox.
Vizquel wound up playing two seasons with the White Sox in a reserve role, and he's on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year following a brilliant career with the Mariners, Indians, Giants, Rangers, Sox and Blue Jays.
Now 50, Vizquel is back with the White Sox, and he'll manage high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018.
During his two years on the South Side, the Sox were still operating in "go for it" mode, and the roster was loaded with veteran players.
That changed last off-season when general manager Rick Hahn launched a long overdue rebuild.
As manager of Winston-Salem, Vizquel will now play a big role in getting many of the White Sox's promising prospects ready for the majors.
"I think this is a great opportunity for me because I'm going to start working with a bunch of young guys that are looking for a journey to get to the big leagues," Vizquel said on a conference call on Monday. "To me, it's a pleasure to work with a lot of prospects. I know the White Sox have a great farm system right now, one of the strongest because of all the trades they've made in the last couple of years. I think these guys are not too far away from contending in the big leagues."
Vizquel often talked about managing near the end of his playing career, and he does bring some experience to the Sox's system.
In addition to managing Team Venezuela in last spring's World Baseball Classic, Vizquel spent the 2013 season as the Angels' minor-league roving infield instructor and was the Tigers' first base/infield/baserunning coach from 2014-17.
"I think the difference is in the major leagues, the guys are more mature and they have a pretty good idea of what anybody expects from them," Vizquel said. "But in the minor leagues, you have a lot of doubt about the stuff they need to get there. You need people to understand where they are coming from and what is the process that needs to be taking place for them to raise to different levels."
Over 24 seasons as a player, Vizquel batted .272 and had 2,877 hits. He also won 11 Gold Gloves and was a three-time all-star.
While he's not a lock to be elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, Vizquel can make a strong case for induction into Cooperstown.
"It's really exciting that finally your name is bouncing around all over the place, having the opportunity to be one of the best players that ever played the game," he said. "You never believe that you were going to be involved in these kinds of situations, but it's great. I think I had a very good career and it's awesome to hear everybody talking about your game and what you did in the big leagues. Hopefully I can be there to represent Venezuela as one of those guys. It's an amazing thing."