Vizquel's tenure with Giants likely done
Veteran shortstop says he wants to play in 2009 season
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean all but officially severed the club's ties with Omar Vizquel as a player by saying Monday that the 41-year-old shortstop won't be re-signed for the 2009 season.Asked if he could envision a scenario in which Vizquel would return to the Giants, Sabean said, "I see zero with Omar. We pretty much talked about that in person yesterday." Vizquel, the all-time Major League leader in games played by a shortstop and an 11-time Gold Glove winner, began the season on the disabled list after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery on Feb. 22 to repair a torn meniscus. Vizquel was activated on May 10, but his batting average sank below .200 on June 14 and he stopped playing regularly after the July 31 Trade Deadline. He was replaced first by Ivan Ochoa, then by Emmanuel Burriss, who is San Francisco's likely Opening Day shortstop for 2009. Burriss injured his left side in early September, enabling Vizquel to play more regularly in the season's final weeks and lift his average to .222. But he could not deter the Giants from focusing on younger players, such as Burriss. "I think he made the decision that he knew he could play and wanted to for another year," Sabean said, "but he also saw this situation for what it was because of the kids coming, and specifically a guy like Burriss." Before Sunday's regular-season finale, Vizquel addressed the team, knowing or sensing that the end with the Giants was at hand. "It could be my last day here," Vizquel said after the game.
Vizquel also insisted that he hopes to remain an active player next year.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I can still play," he said. "I want to play, and that's what I'm going to do."Enduring his injury, his slump and his benching, combined with breaking the games-played record, made this a bittersweet year for Vizquel. "It's been an emotional rollercoaster for me, but I'm glad that I handled it OK," Vizquel said. "I put myself into the shoes of the guys who do these kinds of jobs, and it made me realize how lucky we are, how fortunate we are, to play every day and to have the opportunity to be on the 25-man roster in the big leagues. It's a huge privilege for any player." Instead of exercising their $5.2 million option on Vizquel's contract for 2009, the Giants will pay him a $300,000 buyout.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.