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03/01/09 8:21 PM EST
Vintage Vizquel pays a visit
Decorated fielder makes play reminiscent of his 11 Gold Gloves
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- This was a pure glimpse of past greatness amid the flotsam and jetsam of a 13-6 Cactus League game. Mariners outfielder Prentice Redman, leading off the seventh, hit a sharp grounder up the middle. The Rangers shortstop slid over to make the play. The ball took a bad hop and skipped high and behind the shortstop.
Omar Vizquel adjusted quickly. He reached up with his bare hand, snatched the ball and fired to first base for the out as a roar of admiration went up from 4,000 or so fans.
"I just reacted to the ball, and it stuck in my hand," Vizquel said.
The ball has done that quite a lot over Vizquel's 20-year career.
"I'm still trying to figure out why," Vizquel said.
Maybe it's all that gold is in his gloves.
"Or in my hands," Vizquel smiled.
Vizquel, 41, has won 11 Gold Gloves in his career, and the breathtaking barehanded play on Sunday afternoon in the Rangers' loss to the Mariners was just another reminder of his long legacy of defensive brilliance.
"You can't teach what he does out there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
"I always feel comfortable with my hands," Vizquel said. "And you don't forget the intuition of going after and fielding a ground ball. The first sign is the legs go, but I still feel pretty good in my legs. I have been working hard on my legs, and I feel I can still feel compete with anybody. I still feel pretty quick."
Vizquel has been dealing with some soreness in his back, but he will still be out there on Monday. Elvis Andrus is getting a day off, and Joaquin Arias had to return to the Dominican Republic on a family matter.
Vizquel will start against the Indians, Washington said. He won eight of his 11 Gold Gloves and played in two World Series while with Cleveland from 1994-2004.
"It's special," Vizquel said. "It's a special feeling. My buddies will be there. I have a lot of respect for that organization. They treated me good. I'm going to enjoy the day."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.