Here’s some of the questions and answers from Omar Vizquel’s pregame talk with reporters before the Indians/Blue Jays game:
Q) How does it make you feel that some of your teammates weren’t even born when you started playing?
A) “It's funny in a way, but it's a special feeling knowing that when some of them weren't born when I played my first game in the big leagues. It shows a lot of responsibility and a lot of character. So many things are involved in the major leagues and I've never taken them for granted. I take a lot of pride in what I do on the field and prepare. I came to spring training to make a baseball team. I know what I had to do.”
Q) Do they tease you about your age?
A) “I think guys are a little bit intimidated. They say jokes about me being here. They know how hard it is and they respect that part. I get a couple of comments like, 'Do I need a wheelchair? Or ‘Do I need a cane to get around?’ But it's always in fun. I have a great sense of humor and I think that's what keeps me going.”
Q) How is it seeing former teammates Sandy Alomar and Carlos Baerga?
A) “I go to almost every team and I see a coach or a manager or somebody that I played with and they already have a different career. They're coaches and front office people and I'm still jumping around and fielding ground balls and hitting. I guess it's something that I haven't really thought about that much, but when I look at them it makes me think about the other side of the game.”
Q) Do you have flashbacks to those ‘90s years?
A) “Yeah. Like I said, every time here that’s what happens. I start thinking about the big hits, Wayne Kirby and Randy Johnson throwing a no-hitter (first game at Jacobs Field in 1994) through the seventh inning. The World Series’ from ’95 and ’97 - really special moments and those are hard to forget.”
Q) When do you want to stop playing?
A) “That’s a hard question. I didn't know that I was going to be on the team this year. I took my chances. I took an invitation, not even a contract from the Blue Jays. Then decided to fight for a spot and here I am. I guess if I get an opportunity to get 100 hits and it puts me closer to the 3,000-hit club, I might give it another shot. Who knows? I'm not even thinking of October yet or whenever the season's over. I'm thinking about what I have to do in this series and what's going to happen this week. I'm going to go week by week.”
Q) How does your body feel?
A) The body’s great. That’s one of the things that don’t bother me. If the body would feel weird, tired, slow or old, I wouldn’t give myself a chance. But I know I have enough conditioning that I can go through a season and play whenever they need me to play, play second, short and third and not be in pain the next day.”
Q) Would you rather avoid a farewell tour, for fear of it being too emotional?
A) “They already have given me a little bit of a farewell tour. When I came to Cleveland when I was with the Giants and they put that video up there…it lasted a couple minutes. I think that was a very nice gesture from the front office. They wanted to give me that little moment and I really enjoyed it. That’s the biggest thing I can ask from them.”
Q) During batting practice, Asdrubal Cabrera came over to talk to you. What was it like to know a younger guy who idolized you wanted to meet you?
A) “It makes you feel small. You never know if these kids are following you or you really make an impact on them the way they play. Obviously, there is a new generation of players coming up and most of them want to know what Omar’s preparation looked like or why I’ve stayed in the game so long. They ask me questions and that’s great. I can help a lot of guys by telling them about my experiences or how to prepare for a game or how to get out of slumps or how to do something different that might help them become a better player.”
Q) You ever think about the Hall of Fame?
A) “No, I haven’t given too much thought about it because I’m still playing. It’s way far from now that I may be mentioned as a Hall of Famer. I just worry about the things I have to do now.”
Q) Does part of you wish there wasn’t a player wearing your No. 13 jersey in Cleveland?
A) No, the it’s other way. I’m glad that the No. 13 is still alive and it’s still at shortstop. It would have been weird to see it as a pitcher or as an outfielder. It’s great to see it as a shortstop. That’s what it should stay.”