Vizquel, White Sox agree to 1-year deal

Updated: November 23, 2009, 9:24 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Omar Vizquel is joining a team with a long history of Venezuelan shortstops, and that was part of the attraction in coming to the Chicago White Sox.

The 42-year-old Vizquel agreed Monday to $1,375,000, one-year contract to add depth, experience and perhaps advice to a young infield. Last season, the White Sox made 113 errors.

Now they have an 11-time Gold Glove winner around, one who has spent most of his days at shortstop during a 21-year career.

"I feel pretty comfortable that I can do the job in the field, that I can still run and hit and do everything that a major league player is asked to do," Vizquel said.

Vizquel, who will turn 43 in April, will play for fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen, a former shortstop who will be 46 in January.

The White Sox manager made it clear his team didn't sign Vizquel to be a coach. But Vizquel said he'll gladly be a mentor to younger infielders.

The White Sox traded for Mark Teahen and he will play third; Alexei Ramirez will be at shortstop and Gordon Beckham will switch from third to second in his second season.

"I look at myself as a mentor to some other guys," Vizquel said. "I don't think that's going to be an issue. I've always been there for younger guys. I've been playing in the big leagues for a while."

With the Texas Rangers this year, Vizquel hit .266 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 62 games. He had no errors in 207 chances while playing shortstop, third and second. The slick-fielding veteran also mentored Venezuelan shortstop Elvis Andrus, the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year.

Vizquel said he had to make an adjustment to being a utility player last season but found it to be an opportunity to see the game from a different perspective, something that could help him someday should he manage.

But right now the White Sox are also counting on him to be a productive contributor because he is still in such great shape.

"I think this kid is the best player to come out of my country," Guillen said. "I don't want to say kid -- he's almost the same age as me."

Vizquel, a switch-hitter, has 2,704 hits. He is a career .273 hitter with 78 homers, 906 RBIs and 1,378 runs in 2,742 games with Seattle, Cleveland, San Francisco and the Rangers.

Vizquel, who has played 238 games at shortstop since turning 40, has a career fielding percentage of .984. A three-time AL All-Star, he played in the 1995 and 1997 World Series with Cleveland.

Vizquel considered joining the White Sox five years ago before signing with the San Francisco Giants following his stellar stint with the Indians.

One thing that will likely change is his number. Familiar No. 13 belongs to Guillen.

"That's going to be a hard thing. I don't think Ozzie is going to give up his number," Vizquel said.

He said he might ask countryman Luis Aparicio if can wear his retired No. 11 as a tribute. Or maybe the No. 17 that was worn by another Venezuelan shortstop who played for the White Sox, Chico Carrasquel.

Guillen said nothing has been decided but he would be reluctant to part with his number, one he wore for so many years with the White Sox.

He suggested that Vizquel try No. 23 -- just one digit removed -- because it's such a big number in Chicago, the one most notably worn by Michael Jordan.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press