Vizquel gets cheers from Giants fans
Veteran handling switch to utility role with Rangers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If the Cactus League offered a Most Popular Player award, Omar Vizquel would win it easily.Vizquel, playing against his former teammates for the first time as a member of the Texas Rangers, drew warm applause from the pro-Giants crowd at Scottsdale Stadium during pregame introductions and before each of his plate appearances Monday.
Vizquel sounded somewhat surprised by the reception he has received, even though he played long enough and well enough in Seattle (1989-93), Cleveland (1994-2004) and San Franciscco (2005-08) to enchant legions of fans in each city."It's been weird this year. I've been getting a lot of claps," Vizquel said before the game. "In Seattle [Peoria, Ariz.], I got some claps. In Cleveland [Goodyear, Ariz.], of course. Here, I don't know. Maybe some people will remember me here. It feels weird, being clapped by the fans in that way. It feels really emotional, I would say." Vizquel did little in the game, leading off and going 0-for-4. He didn't even take his customary place at shortstop. The 11-time Gold Glove winner started at second base, having ceded shortstop to 20-year-old rookie Elvis Andrus. Vizquel, 41, is likely to make the Rangers' Opening Day roster as a utility infielder, backing up at second base and shortstop. Vizquel, who played exclusively shortstop during his first 20 seasons except for one-game cameos at second base (1991) and right field (1999), applied the same word to describe inhabiting second base that he used for interpreting his cheers. "Wow, it's weird, man," he said. "I get caught thinking too much, where I have to be, what I have to do, where at short everything just comes naturally. ... It's just thinking too much [at second base]. I'm going to try to simplify things a little more."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.