Why the Chicago White Sox made a great hire in Omar Vizquel

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox hope that Omar Vizquel will lend his extensive experience to young prospects as the manager of Class A Winston-Salem.

My fondest memory of Omar Vizquel comes from watching him as a member of the White Sox playing catch with shortstop Alexei Ramirez before a game at (then) U.S. Cellular Field. And in hindsight, maybe it was a sign of things to come.

In particular, he was doing a trick where he caught the ball in the palm of his glove and dropped it straight into his hand almost instantly before throwing it back.

It sounds simple, but watching it in real life, it looked like sleight of hand. Did he only pretend to use his glove and just catch it barehanded the whole time? You knew that didn’t happen, but it was hard to tell the difference.

Ramirez saw what he was doing and tried to copy him, but he kept dropping the ball. So Vizquel gave him pointers until he got it right. By the time they were done playing catch, Ramirez mastered the trick.

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One can assume that this was only one of the things Vizquel taught Ramirez during their time together, and one of the less serious things at that. And that’s what the Chicago White Sox are banking on in hiring the long-time infielder-turned-coach as the manager of Class A affiliate Winston-Salem.

Personally, I think this move will pay off really nicely for the South Siders.

For one thing, Vizquel has been garnering coaching experience for the last five years. In the majors, he’s worked with Brad Ausmus in Detroit as a first base, infield and base-running coach. He also managed Venezuela (his home country) in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

And if Vizquel’s career excellence exhibited one thing specifically, it was a dedication to his craft and incredible understanding of baseball.

Relative to other players, Vizquel wasn’t especially physically gifted; he was hardly the biggest, fastest or strongest in any major league clubhouse he was in.

But he earned .272 career batting average and over 2,800 hits nonetheless. And he grabbed 11 Gold Gloves through a combination of reflexes and reliability, making every easy play as well as the spectacular ones.

I often find that those types of players make great coaches: the ones who must use their savvy, not just skill, to win.

His knowledge of fundamental baseball from his playing days and his experience of coaching those aspects of baseball should be invaluable to developing players across the board.

Plus, I love the idea of having Vizquel in a position to help mold impressionable young Latino players. One can already see how important that influence could be in an organization that will soon be hanging its hat on kids like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert (who should start the season with Vizquel at Winston-Salem).

And if he excels at this, more managerial shots will follow. Whether that’s somewhere else or in Chicago is anyone’s guess.

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All in all, this is a win-win for everyone involved. For myself, I’m expecting the young guys at Class A Winston-Salem to learn a lot from Omar Vizquel.

Maybe they’ll pick up a little of his magic, too.