Omar Vizquel is in the cramped workout area near the Los Angeles Angels’ weight room shortly after the sun comes up, repeatedly slamming a medicine ball into a concrete wall with insistent, two-handed throws.
The determination and work ethic necessary to play nearly a quarter-century in the major leagues don’t just disappear. Although the 45-year-old who played more games at shortstop than anybody in baseball history has started a new career as a coach, Vizquel is still grinding away in early-morning workouts by himself before he teaches a few things to the Angels’ prospects in spring training.
“The baseball world is the best work that a man can have,” Vizquel said. “I love it here, and I think that I’m going to die being a baseball player.”
Indeed, Vizquel couldn’t even stay away from baseball for an entire winter after ending his playing career with Toronto last fall. He’s in his first weeks as a roving minor-league infield instructor for the Angels, teaching the finer points of fielding to youngsters who hadn’t been born when he broke into the majors.
“I don’t know, I just needed something to do,” Vizquel said. “I want to be close to the game. I want to learn my new career, what it’s going to be — being a coach or, my final goal, which is being a manager someday. I don’t really want to take the time off and do anything in my house. I want to do what I love to do, which is here. Baseball.”
It’s not as if Vizquel has nothing better to do. He is a prolific oil painter, sculptor and photographer.
But after running into former Indians teammate Paul Sorrento, the Angels’ minor league hitting coordinator, at a poker game, Vizquel connected with the Angels. They were looking for somebody to teach infielders, and Vizquel is more than qualified.
Valentine gets new job
Bobby Valentine was introduced as the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. He will take over a program that has 31 teams, including baseball.