April 23, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
38°F

Tribe: Omar Vizquel eyeing managerial job

CLEVELAND — Omar Vizquel is done playing the game, but he’s not done with baseball.

The 46-year-old, who is currently serving as a roving minor league infield instructor for the Los Angeles Angels, wants to manage in the majors before walking off the field for good.

Omar Vizquel

“It’s coming,” said Vizquel, who is in line to manage his hometown team Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League next year. “I really want to do that before I completely retire as a baseball player. I want to be a manager some day, and I think (managing Caracas is) the first step.”

Vizquel, who played with the Indians from 1994-2004, is in town for his Bobblehead night tonight at Progressive Field. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday in front of a Cleveland crowd that has always supported him — even as an opponent.

“To me, it’s really strange,” said Vizquel, who was part of a star-studded cast with the Indians who won six Central Division titles and made two World Series appearances from 1995-2001. “I stopped playing in Cleveland in 2004. To this day, fans really treat me very special. It’s like it happened yesterday that I left the team. It’s different, but it’s really nice to see.

“I think it’s because what we gave them in the ’90s. Everything that happened in the ’90s was amazing. The fans and players made a connection. I have a Twiiter account and most of the people that follow me are from Cleveland.”

Vizquel retired after a season in Toronto last year — his 24th — and said he does not miss his playing days. Still, he wants to be part of the game.

“To tell you the truth, I really don’t miss playing much,” Vizquel said. “I think playing at 45 was hard enough. It was a switch that turned on and I wanted to move in a different direction. To me, I wanted to do something different. Being a coach and manager is the most immediate way I could think (of staying in baseball).”

A .272 lifetime hitter with 11 Gold Gloves (eight in Cleveland), Vizquel is considered a strong candidate to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s played more games at shortstop than anyone in big league history, with him and Ozzie Smith considered the best fielders to ever play the position.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.