Omar Vizquel, who finished his 24-year career last season, has to wait five years before he gets his first crack at the Hall of Fame. In the meantime, Vizquel is going to pursue his longtime goal of being a major-league manager, and he's taking the first step with the Los Angeles Angels.
Just weeks before the start of spring training, the Angels hired Vizquel as a roving minor-league infield instructor. Vizquel will help with big-league camp in February and then move over to minor-league camp.
"I think it's a great move for us," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "It's a tremendous presence. What our infielders, both young and old, can learn from him is incalculable. It's tremendous what he brings to the table. I think it's the start of the next career for Omar Vizquel."
Vizquel, 45, got this opportunity because of some fortunate timing. Gary DiSarcina, who had been slated to be one of the Angels' top minor-league instructors, left in December when he got the opportunity to manage the Triple-A team of the Boston Red Sox, which plays in Pawtucket near his Massachusetts home. That left the Angels with a void and the offseason halfway over. The team discussed possibilities and Paul Sorrento, another Angels minor-league coach, suggested Vizquel.
Sorrento and Vizquel played together with the Indians and both live in the Seattle area.
Vizquel hoped to follow in the footsteps of fellow big-league infielders Robin Ventura and Ozzie Guillen, who stepped into big-league managing jobs with no minor-league managing experience.
While he waits for that opportunity, Vizquel has plenty of experience to impart to young players. He won 11 Gold Gloves in a career that began in 1989 with the Mariners. He spent the largest chunk of his career in Cleveland, where he was a cog on the Indians' powerhouse teams of the mid-1990s. Dipoto was one of his teammates on the 1994 Indians.