November 22, 2014

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Tribe notes: Former fan favorite Omar Vizquel back in town, says his goal is to manage someday

CLEVELAND — Omar Vizquel is done playing the game, but he’s not done with baseball. The 46-year-old, who is serving as a roving minor league infield instructor for the Los Angeles Angels, wants to manage in the majors before walking off the field for good.

“It’s coming,” said Vizquel, who is in line to manage his hometown team Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League next year. “I really want to do that before I completely retire as a baseball player. I want to be a manager some day, and I think (managing Caracas is) the first step.”

Vizquel, who played with the Indians from 1994-2004, is in town for his Bobblehead night Monday at Progressive Field. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday in front of a Cleveland crowd that has always supported him — even as an opponent.

“To me, it’s really strange,” said Vizquel, who was part of a star-studded cast with the Indians who won six Central Division titles and made two World Series appearances from 1995-2001. “I stopped playing in Cleveland in 2004. To this day, fans really treat me very special. It’s like it happened yesterday that I left the team. It’s different, but it’s really nice to see.

“I think it’s because what we gave them in the ’90s. Everything that happened in the ’90s was amazing. The fans and players made a connection. I have a Twitter account and most of the people that follow me are from Cleveland.”

Vizquel retired after a season in Toronto last year — his 24th — and said he does not miss his playing days. Still, he wants to be part of the game.

“To tell you the truth, I really don’t miss playing much,” Vizquel said. “I think playing at 45 was hard enough. It was a switch that turned on and I wanted to move in a different direction. To me, I wanted to do something different. Being a coach and manager is the most immediate way I could think (of staying in baseball).”

A .272 lifetime hitter with 11 Gold Gloves (eight in Cleveland), Vizquel is considered a strong candidate to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s played more games at shortstop than anyone in big league history. He and Ozzie Smith are considered the best fielders to ever play the position.

Up and down

As expected, the Indians recalled right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Triple-A Columbus to start Saturday and optioned right-hander Joe Martinez back to the Clippers.

Martinez, 30, appeared in two games for the Indians, allowing a run on four hits over five innings.

Roundin’ third

Slumping slugger Mark Reynolds was not in the lineup, but did pinch hit, striking out in the ninth inning. Reynolds entered Saturday in an 0-for-19 skid, batting just .168 (19-for-113) with two home runs, six RBIs and 51 strikeouts since May 30. The cold spell dropped Reynolds’ batting average from .254 to .221.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @CAwesomeheimer.