Vizquel breaks shortstop record
Giants veteran passes Aparicio's mark with 2,584 games
MIAMI -- At the start of the bottom of the sixth inning, when players normally take the field, Omar Vizquel found himself all alone at his position for the first time.
It was fitting, considering that Vizquel was playing in his 2,584th game at shortstop, which gave him sole possession of first place, passing Luis Aparicio on the all-time list.
In the second game of a doubleheader against the Marlins on Sunday, when Vizquel went out to short, the teleprompter at Dolphin Stadium flashed a note of congratulations, a crowd of 14,674 rose to its feet in applause and the 41-year-old shortstop mildly tipped his cap.
Then the rest of the Giants took the field and individually congratulated Vizquel, who for 20 years in the Major Leagues made playing his position an art form.
"I felt very emotional out there," said Vizquel, who struggled at the plate, going for 0-for-7, and committed his first error of the season in the doubleheader before leaving the contest in the seventh inning of Game 2.
"My teammates didn't want to come out, and I didn't know what was going on," Vizquel said. "I was very happy when they finally did.
"I just thank God he was able to keep me healthy enough to [set the record]."
Fellow Venezuelan and left-side-of-the-infield partner Jose Castillo wanted to be the first to congratulate Vizquel when he finally set the all-time record. So in the sixth, Castillo ran out and gave his fellow countryman a big hug before taking his position at third base.
"He deserves it," Castillo said. "He's a companion who is always there if you need him. I know he will be in the Hall of Fame one day."
Vizquel's 2,584 games is a lot for a 5-foot-8, 175-pound guy who is playing one of the most demanding positions in baseball.
"It's a historic moment," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's excited, and we are, too. I'm proud of Omar, and I'm proud to say I'm here for [the record]."But Vizquel's career has been about a lot more than quantity. He owns 11 Gold Gloves -- second only to Ozzie Smith's 13 -- and he sports a career .274 batting average. He's also first among all shortstops who have played in more than 1,000 games with a .984 fielding percentage, and he has been a part of an all-time-leading 1,658 double plays. On top of that, Vizquel is one of only four shortstops in history -- and the only Venezuelan -- to have played 20 seasons in the Major Leagues.
"I wish I could be healthier [this season] to be able to enjoy it more," Vizquel said recently. "But at this moment, my knee and being able to play all season is most important."Vizquel's record-setting year started off a bit unsettled. He missed all of Spring Training after arthroscopic left knee surgery on Feb. 27, and then sustained a bone bruise that delayed his recovery.
Since then, however, Vizquel has played in 12 of the past 13 games -- starting 11 of them -- and he's hitting .275."I feel fortunate more than anything to have been able to stay healthy and have the talent to play for so long," Vizquel said.
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.