September 27, 2012
Jays' Vizquel offers parting adviceRetiring veteran feels letting mistakes slide has to end
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
At the start of the last homestand of Omar Vizquel’s big league career, the future Hall of Fame shortstop painted a picture of a laissez faire Blue Jays team full of promise but lacking in maturity, and of a coaching staff that doesn’t address mistakes in any meaningful way.
It hasn’t been a good combination for the Jays.
Vizquel, who called his only season in Toronto a personal disappointment, said he believed the Jays run too loose a ship, let too much go throughout the season and need to “jump on mistakes” more often than they have in John Farrell’s second season as manager, Vizquel’s only season here.
“It’s part of the inexperience,” said Vizquel, in his 24th and final season as a player. “If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — they just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We have to stand up and say something right after that mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
“Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.”
The implication from Vizquel was that didn’t happen throughout the season. Vizquel didn’t specifically address what kind of mistakes he was referring to but anyone watching the Jays most of the year would know there have been no shortage of defensive shortcomings, baserunning blunders and execution errors that were apparent before injuries ravaged what was left of this disastrous season.
“No doubt this is a good young ball club,” said Vizquel. “Obviously, they need some veteran leadership in here. I tried to do my best, a little helping here and there. But I think the coaching staff have a big responsibility to kind of get in there and tie things up a little, have a bit more communication with their players and try to make this thing happen the right way.
“Look, I think a lot of mistakes were let go because its young guys. You expect mistakes from young guys. It needs to be talked about. It shouldn’t just be let go and say, ‘Ah, we have another day.’ You have to get on it. You have to say, ‘I didn’t like that play’ and let’s try and do something different. You have to talk it over and over again and how do you call it, be on top of that.”
Vizquel said he wants to see what the Jays look like next year, with “a guy like (Jose) Bautista helping out (Edwin) Encarnacion.” He wants to see what a healthy Adam Lind can do. He wants to see what J.P. Arencibia can do with a full season behind the plate. He wants to see a pitching rotation that includes Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek and Brandon Morrow. And he wants to see what Henderson Alvarez does “when he starts thinking about the game” more.
“It’s not too far away,” said Vizquel. “We have enough talent here to compete ... It was too bad we couldn’t do it this year.”
In one way, Vizquel was like the young Jays. He left spring training believing this team was for real. “Oh my God, I was really excited about our chances,” he said. “Until you start playing the games, then you realize, this is not spring training anymore. This is the real deal.”
The real deal wasn’t kind to the Jays this summer. And as the end approaches, the end of the season, the end of Vizquel’s remarkable career, he admitted to feeling “sad.
“I’m feeling sad in a personal way,” he said. “I was expecting much more from myself.” He didn’t quite know where he fit in on the team. He didn’t know when he was going to play, in what situation, against what kind of pitching, or what position he was going to play. He found some of that difficult and confusing, again bringing into question the internal communications on the team.
And still, “it was a great experience being here. I love this town. I love the ballpark. The city is amazing. I made some good friends. There’s nothing more than I can ask.”
For 24 seasons, all he did was his job. Wednesday night the Jays season and his playing career both come to an end.