By Joe Cowley–
Omar Vizquel admitted on Tuesday that he entered last spring training with the mindset that 2010 would be his final season as a major-league player.
Thanks to some unexpected quality playing time with the White Sox, however, as well as another 1.75 million reasons to give it one more go around, Vizquel and the club announced that the veteran would return for one more year, with the 43-year-old resuming his role as a key backup at third, second and shortstop.
“I came back and had an opportunity to play and really convinced myself that I can come back and be productive,’’ Vizquel explained. “That’s why I came back.
“I’m clear about my situation. I know my job is going to be that as a back-up player. Whatever happens this year I will take it in and enjoy it like it’s going to be my last year again.’’
Vizquel went from reserve to an almost every day player after Mark Teahen was injured in late May. He took over the third base duties and kept a majority of the playing time until late September when the Sox wanted to look at rookie Brent Morel.
The 11-time Gold Glover hit .276 with 11 doubles, two homers and 30 RBI in 108 games, making 62 starts at third, 19 at second and eight at shortstop.
“No, there wasn’t any kind of wear and tear,’’ Vizquel said, when asked if his age was a concern considering the amount of playing time he got last year. “My body responded awesome. The challenge was great and the way I prepared myself in the offseason I was up to the challenge of the year.’’
While Vizquel expects to once again be a calming force for what could be a very young Sox infield this season, he also admitted that one more year in the game is yet another chance to get some on the job training for after his playing career is over.
“Yes, I’m really preparing myself [to be a manger],’’ Vizquel said. “I would like to manage as soon as possible. I think I have the experience, the knowledge. I can’t wait for the opportunity to do it.’’
He definitely has the right guy to learn from in Ozzie Guillen.
“It was really different because Oz is a different guy,’’ Vizquel said of the Guillen experience. “He knows how to push your buttons.’’
Cora is coming back
Joey Cora will be back as the Sox bench coach in 2011, after the Sun-Times first reported on Tuesday that Milwaukee named Ron Roenicke to their managerial vacancy.
Cora was a finalist for the position, after interviewing several times with the Brewers and ownership last week.