Results tagged ‘ Omar Vizquel ’

Scutaro shows he’s a master of the game

Tuesday March 26

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Marco Scutaro again demonstrated Tuesday why he’s a thinking man’s ballplayer.

Whether he’s outsmarting pitchers or anchoring the defense, Scutaro is one of those rare performers who proves that the brain is a player’s sixth tool. He did this again in Tuesday’s third inning against the San Diego Padres, when he drew a walk and, on the same play, suddenly dashed to second base unchallenged.

Scutaro explained simply that he ran a little harder than usual to first base and noticed that San Diego’s middle infielders were paying less than full attention to him. He noted that he successfully executed this maneuver (officially, a walk plus a stolen base) in 2002 and in 2009.

Aware that reporters would eagerly spread word of his daring baserunning, Scutaro said with mock indignation, “I don’t know how many years it’s going to take me now” before he can catch another set of infielders daydreaming.

Damaso Blanco, a former Giants infielder who’s now a Venezuelan-based baseball broadcaster, said that he had seen two other players achieve this baserunning feat: Tomas Perez, a former utility infielder, and Omar Vizquel, who needs no introduction. I always considered Perez to be a handy player, whereas Vizquel’s baseball instincts are virtually unmatched. Though this was just an exhibition game, it was still a suitable venue for greatness to unfold. Because, make no mistake, this was a great play.

Chris Haft

Maybe Omar will play forever

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Same time, next year for Omar Vizquel? Perhaps.

The former Giants shortstop returned to Scottsdale Stadium with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday as he approaches his 22nd Major League season. Vizquel turns 43 in April, but he didn’t rule out continuing to play beyond this year.

“I’m just letting my body tell me when,” Vizquel said as he fixed himself a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich before the Giants’ 6-2 exhibition victory. “My body’s holding on good, I’m feeling good, I feel I have the passion for it, I consider that I had a good year last year (.266 in 62 games with Texas) and that’s why I’m here, because my body’s telling me that I can still be out there and compete with the other guys.”

Lasting as long as Vizquel isn’t easy, though. He said that practically lived in the gymnasium during the offseason to prepare himself for this spring.

“There is so so much competition,” he said. “If I want to compete, I have to stay strong, flexible quick, agile.”

Also during the offseason, Omar Vizquel nearly joined a school for aspiring bullfighters in his native Venezuela.

By contrast, when it comes to managing a Major League team, which he’d like to do, Vizquel believes he can bypass an extensive apprenticeship. He’s willing to coach on the Major League level for a few years before becoming a big-league skipper. But spending years and years in the Minors before ascending, as some managers do, is not for him, as he has stated previously.

*****

So what if Mark DeRosa began facing “real” pitchers in batting practice only Sunday? He singled on the first pitch he saw in Tuesday’s exhibition.

“Spring Training’s about working on things. I understand you have to take some pitches,” DeRosa said. “But at the same token, this is my first time I’ve seen live action in four or five months. So I at least wanted to pull the trigger on a few things.”

DeRosa left the game after four innings — “I could have played nine,” he insisted — and isn’t expected to play Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

*****

First baseman Aubrey Huff rejoined the team after a case of food poisoning sidelined him Monday. Still feeling queasy, Huff didn’t play against the White Sox but likely will make Wednesday’s trip to Mesa for the Cubs game.

*****

Using closer Brian Wilson for two innings against the White Sox wasn’t really unusual. “It gives him a chance to work on his pitches,” Bochy said.

– Chris Haft

Holm keeps fighting

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Giants send Steve Holm to Triple-A Fresno to start the season, at least he’ll know he did everything to stay in the big leagues — and to earn his way back even before departing.

In Friday night’s exhibition against the A’s, Holm threw out a runner trying to steal and brilliantly engineered a 10th-inning double play by faking a throw to first base, then wheeling toward third, where Rajai Davis had strayed too far down the line. Holm, who had taken Travis Ishikawa’s throw to force a runner at the plate with the bases loaded, threw to third baseman Juan Uribe for the putout on Davis.

The instinct Holm displayed was Omar Vizquel-like. That’s how impressive it was.

“Good players have that clock in them, and he showed it on that play,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Omar speaks on Burriss, Frandsen; Cain just wants to pitch

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Omar Vizquel, the still-popular former Giant, didn’t endorse either Emmanuel Burriss or Kevin Frandsen in the showdown for San Francisco’s second base job. But when Omar talks, he’s worth listening to, regardless of the subject. He paid sincere compliments to each player before Monday’s Rangers-Giants exhibition.

“Burriss showed a lot of improvement last year,” said Vizquel, who occasionally teamed up the middle with Burriss when the latter played second base. “I think everybody’s surprised at how well he did, coming from Single-A ball and taking the challenge to play short and second and do everything the right way. Obviously he’s young and has to learn all the habits and everything that happens in the major leagues.

“And Frandsen, a couple years ago, I thought he was the player everybody was looking to be the regular second baseman for awhile and then he got hurt. And when you get hurt you have to [take] a long time again to get used to everything. I don’t know how he’s doing this year, but he’s got the tools to be a Major League everyday player someday.”

***

It’s fair to suppose that Matt Cain, whose determination is beyond question, is dead set on not enduring another season like the previous two, when he posted respectable ERAs yet finished with dreadful records (7-16, 3.65 in 2007, 8-14, 3.76 in 2008) due to poor run support.

But Cain reminded reporters that the wins and losses assigned to a starting pitcher often depend on factors he can’t influence. So he’ll once again focus on lasting as long as he can in each game — a mindset that has enabled him to average 202 2/3 innings in his three full big league seasons.

“I try to keep that same goal, and I feel like that goal will pay off,” said Cain, whose solid effort against Texas (seven innings, four hits, one walk, eight strikeouts) was marred by two home runs.

Cain said that he employs different mental devices to push himself.

“You almost make it a little competition (with) yourself, staying in as long as possible, or you try to outdo the other pitcher — ‘Oh, he’s going back out there? Then I’m going back out there.’ You drive yourself in different little ways as well as trying to win.”

Both Cain and Tim Lincecum have been reluctant to throw their sliders, but since each has only one exhibition start left, the time to refine that pitch is at hand, if not overdue. Cain admitted this: “It’s kind of hit-and-miss right now. That’s kind of a big pitch. I need to be more consistent with it.” He concluded that his slider might react better out of the dry Arizona air, a common complaint from pitchers regarding their offspeed deliveries.

***

Jesus Guzman homered with two outs in the ninth and the Giants trailing, 5-4, to force extra innings. He’s now hitting .412 with five homers, a team-high (along with Juan Uribe) 15 RBIs, a .922 slugging percentage and a .444 on-base percentage.

But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Because of his lack of polish at any position, he won’t make the Opening Day roster. Expect him to receive plenty of defensive tutelage at Triple-A, though.

– Chris Haft

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