When his long, stellar playing career was winding down, Hall of Fame candidate Omar Vizquel knew he wanted to manage in the majors. A first step toward that goal became official Monday, when the White Sox announced he’ll manage their Class A team at Winston-Salem in 2018.
Vizquel, 50, who spent the previous four seasons as the Tigers’ first-base, infield and baserunning coach, replaces Willie Harris, who’s leaving for a managing job with another organization.
“Yes, no doubt,” Vizquel said of his goal. “The manager has a lot of responsibility . . . and I think I have what it takes to be a successful manager. You have to go through the ropes. You’ve got to learn the process. I was really glad I was in the big leagues with a great staff with the Detroit Tigers. I had the opportunity to share a lot of positive and negative things there, and I think that’s just the preparation to the journey I have to do to make it to the big leagues.”
Vizquel’s only managerial experience was for Venezuela during the 2017 World Baseball Classic. At Winston-Salem, his emphasis will be on player development at an important level of the Sox’ system.
“He has a wealth of experience and knowledge gained through an impressively lengthy baseball career,” said Chris Getz, the Sox’ director of player development. “Omar is passionate about teaching the game.”
Vizquel appeared in 2,968 games in 24 seasons with the Mariners (1989-93), Indians (1994-2004), Giants (2005-08), Rangers (2009), Sox (2010-11) and Blue Jays (2012). The Caracas, Venezuela, native batted .272 (2,788 hits) and was an 11-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop. Last month, he became a first-time candidate for the Hall of Fame.
Vizquel has the second-highest career fielding percentage (.985) all-time among shortstops (minimum 1,000 games played), ranks first in career games played as a shortstop (2,709) and ranks among all-time major-league leaders in games played (12th) and at-bats (17th).
Vizquel believes his strong suit as a manager and instructor will be clear and honest communication with players in English and Spanish. Prospects often have doubts about what it takes to become major-leaguers, he said, and they “need to understand where they are coming from and what is the process that needs to be taking place” to get to the next level.
“Let them know right away what you want to accomplish,” he said. “It makes their job easier.”
Vizquel’s hiring was first reported Nov. 20. The Sox’ remaining player-development staff and assignments will be announced at a later date.
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