CLEVELAND: Omar Vizquel retired as a player after last season, so it will be almost five more years before he is eligible to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He says it’s not something he thinks about often, but certainly it has crossed his mind.
“I think my numbers are there,” he said. “But guys have their opinions. There are players with 3,000 hits who haven’t been elected, so I question myself. Obviously, I’m not going to be elected the first time around, but I have some numbers to argue.”
Vizquel was not known for his offense, but he finished his career with 2,877 hits, 404 stolen bases and 1,445 runs. Like Ozzie Smith, who already is in the hall, Vizquel has strong credentials as a defensive shortstop.
He won 11 Gold Gloves, the last when he was 39, and appeared in three All-Star Games.
Asked whether Vizquel should be in the hall, Indians manager Terry Francona said: “I haven’t thought about it. Give me his numbers.”
When informed of the number of Gold Gloves Vizquel won, Francona said: “Probably. That’s a lot of Gold Gloves.”
Vizquel is in Cleveland for the Tribe’s alumni weekend series. He will remain here through Monday night, when the first 10,000 fans will receive his bobblehead.
“This will be my fifth bobblehead,” he said, starting to smile, “and none of them look like me.”
After playing here 11 years and becoming a fan favorite — maybe THE fan favorite of the 1990s — Vizquel feels a strong connection to Northeast Ohio.
“When I was coming in yesterday, a lady at the airport said, ‘Thank you for all the things you did here,’ ” Vizquel said. “I have a Twitter account, and everybody who follows me is from Cleveland. They all want to talk about the ’90s.
“It feels strange [to come back]. I stopped playing in Cleveland in 2004, and to this day, the fans treat me special, like I just left yesterday.”
In 2005, Tribe officials felt it was time for Jhonny Peralta to take over Vizquel’s job.
“I felt hurt when they let me go,” Vizquel said. “I wanted to retire as an Indian. But the business process didn’t allow that. It was really a sad moment, but you have to move on.”
DAY OFF — Francona said Mark Reynolds wasn’t “necessarily” getting a mental health day off, that it was mostly just a day off and suggested he might use him at some point Saturday.
In his past 32 games, dating to May 30, Reynolds is batting .168 with 51 strikeouts in 113 at-bats.
“He’ll be back tomorrow,” Francona said. “The only thing I’ve told him is to see the ball and put a good swing on it. Right now, he’s fouling off that pitch, then the pitcher is making his pitch. He’ll get hot again and carry us.”
WRONG INCENTIVE — Francona doesn’t concur with the decision to make the winner of the All-Star Game owner of home-field advantage in the World Series.
“I don’t agree with it,” he said. “You play all year and that should mean something.”
TIGHT SCHEDULE — In addition to appearing at Progressive Field through Monday, Omar Vizquel will attend a showing of his art at the Convivium 33 Gallery at Joseph Arts Hall, 1433 E. 33rd St., Cleveland from 5 to 8 p.m. today.
Art is only one of Vizquel’s activities. He is the roving minor-league hitting coach for the Angels and hopes one day to manage in the big leagues.
“That’s what I’m preparing myself to do,” he said. “I’m going to have the opportunity to manage in winter ball in Caracas [Venezuela]. I want to manage in the big league before I retire from baseball.”
FARM FACTS — Matt Carson hit his 10th homer of the season and drove in four runs, as Columbus beat Louisville 7-3. Paulo Espino (1-4, 4.91 ERA) gave up one run in 6⅔ innings.
— Sheldon Ocker