Chicago White Sox veteran Omar Vizquel celebrated his 44th birthday Sunday in Detroit with a start at second base, and he believes he might be able to celebrate a few more birthdays on the field.
“As long as the body is OK, and (I’m) performing and doing what I ask it to do,” said Vizquel, who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1984 and played his first five big-league seasons in the Kingdome. “Right now there’s no reason I can’t. I am going to keep trying to play. I don’t need to be on a table getting massages, or (in) a Jacuzzi or need a personal trainer with me on the road trips. I feel I can still do the same things I’ve been doing for all these years.”
Vizquel, who got a birthday cake after the game, already has made seven starts at three positions. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Bobby Wallace of the St. Louis Cardinals has played shortstop past his 44th birthday (in 1918).
“(Vizquel) saved our (rears) last year, big-time, and continues to do it,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I need to put him out there because we need a break and he shows up to perform the way he does. That’s not an easy thing to do.”
Guillen appreciates how Vizquel, a fellow Venezuelan, worked to attain his success and sustain it over a 23-year career that has included 11 Gold Glove awards for his defense.
“Omar is not the type of guy who was gifted with talent,” Guillen said. “I’ve known him for a long, long time. I knew him when he was 16 years old. He worked his way out. Obviously, in the process, it got better and better and better to put himself as a Hall of Fame (candidate). I know how hard it was for him to break into the majors (from) Venezuela.”
The roof at Milwaukee’s Miller Park was closed for the game between the Astros and Brewers on Sunday, but that didn’t stop a small wayward hawk from grabbing everyone’s attention.
It attacked another bird in center field in the top of the third inning, then landed in shallow right field to watch the bottom half with Houston right fielder Hunter Pence giving it plenty of distance.
“Whatever that was, a pigeon, it looked scared. It looked at me like, ‘Why is the roof closed? I can’t get out of here,’ ” Brewers starter Randy Wolf said.
Someone even created a Twitter account for the bird during the game. The only person it was following – or hawking – on the social media site during the game was Pence.
“Outside the windows, there was (a) bigger hawk outside circling around,” said reliever John Axford, who converted his fourth save in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win. “We were wondering if it was a mom or a dad trying to get in on the action.”
The bird eventually flew away when first-base umpire Angel Hernandez began to approach it after the third inning. After the game, the Brewers opened the outfield panels of the park, which generally allows birds to get out – and in – the retractable roof stadium.