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11/23/09 2:05 PM EST
Vizquel picks Sox ahead of Indians
Former fan favorite takes one-year deal with South Siders
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- So much for the "Little O" reunion show. Omar Vizquel signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Monday, which means his return to Progressive Field in 2010 will have him in the visitor's dugout and wearing the uniform of a division rival.
That's a far cry from the comeback many Tribe fans were hoping for. Knowing the Indians had a need for a utility infielder, the hope among fans was that Vizquel would be brought aboard to mentor fellow Venezuelans Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena and to finish off a potential Hall of Fame career in the city where he truly made a name for himself over 11 memorable seasons. The Indians did express interest in Vizquel, but they were told by his agent, Adam Katz, that the White Sox were a higher priority on his list. It had been speculated that the 42-year-old Vizquel, perhaps seeking future support for his Hall of Fame candidacy, wanted to land with a "high-profile" club, and the Sox are obviously in a bigger market than the Tribe. Of course, there were other reasons why Vizquel wasn't what you'd call the perfect fit for the Indians' utility vacancy. While the Tribe certainly valued the defensive help Vizquel could have provided, the leadership he'd bring to their middle infielders and the sentimental reasons to bring him back to Cleveland, the truth is that the Indians are hoping to land a utilityman who can hit well right-handed and spell Valbuena, who will be entering his first full season in the bigs, against left-handed pitching. The switch-hitting Vizquel, a career .255 hitter against lefties, didn't exactly fit the bill. But Vizquel, who won eight Gold Gloves and was named to three All-Star teams during his Indians tenure from 1994-2004, would have been a boon to the Tribe's marketing department, particularly in a 2010 season in which the Tribe will be fielding a roster filled with young, unproven players. Alas, Tribe fans looking for reminders of the club's 1990s glory days will have to settle for the return of Sandy Alomar Jr. as first-base and catching coach.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.