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White Sox Tue Jun 29 2010

Vizquel Saves Sox With a Flick of the Wrist

SoxLogoSmall.jpegThere's no sharper observer of major-league baseball than Rob Neyer, so I had to laugh when the pioneering ESPN.com columnist posted about Omar Vizquel this afternoon on Twitter, joking that the White Sox surely had no chance to win the AL Central if they continued to start the 43-year-old slap hitter at third base.

I've thought along the same lines myself this summer, wondering how Kenny Williams could hand the hot corner to such luminaries as Vizquel, the since-injured Mark Teahen and the since-released Jayson Nix. Vizquel, one of the finest defensive infielders in baseball history, was a nice luxury to have on the bench, but with a .630 OPS, what was he doing in the starting lineup so often?

vizquel mug.jpgTuesday in Kansas City, the ageless Venezuelan earned his keep in the best way, coming on late for 21-year-old Dayan Viciedo and saving a 4-3 win with a flawless defensive play. The Royals had loaded the bases with two outs, threatening to complete their comeback from a four-run deficit against Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton and now J.J. Putz.

Putz blazed a fastball past Mike Aviles for a called strike, then buried one in the dirt. He came with a third fastball and Aviles smashed it toward the third baseman. Vizquel took a step to his left, reached down and gloved the ball on a short hop. He flipped it to second to end the inning and the Royals' final scoring threat.

[check out the video at MLB.com]

That had Twitter singing a different tune.

"Omar Vizquel," one fan crowed, "is the best infielder ever."

 
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