Vizquel named Venezuelan captain

Omar Vizquel - '05 Batting Action
At national squad in ceremonies at Caracas, Omar Vizquel, 10-time Gold Glove shortstop, was named as captain of Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team next March.

“It will be proud to represent Venezuela,” said Vizquel. “The Classic will be a spectacle, very special for all the ballplayers, and all the Venezuelans are going to want to be part of it.”

Vizquel will probably be the Venezuelan leadoff hitter, and he thanked San Francisco Giants manager Felipe Alou for that. “I have never been a natural leadoff batter, although this year Felipe used me there in San Francisco, and the experience taught me that I can adapt to it,” said Vizquel.

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the first Venezuelan to manage in the Major Leagues, told about his feelings toward Vizquel: “To me, he’s a Hall of Famer. Nobody’s going to be better than him. I don’t care how many Gold Gloves you win. To me, it would be Luis (Aparicio), Vizquel, and Davey (Concepcion) as the three top shortstops in our country.”

Vizquel, a lifetime .274 hitter, batted .271 with 45 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 2005, leading all MLB shortstops with a franchise-record .988 fielding percentage. The three-time All-Star has a lifetime .984 fielding percentage, tops among Major League shortstops who have played in at least 1,000 games.

Venezuela team will manage by Luis Sojo, with bench coach Davey Concepcion, assistants Omar Malave, Luis Salazar, Roberto Espinoza and Oscar Escobar.

Players who agree to participate to play World baseball Classic on the Venezuelan roster include Edgardo Alfonzo, Bobby Abreu, Henry Blanco, Miguel Cairo, Giovanni Carrara, Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, Melvin Mora, Tomas Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Carlos Zambrano and Victor Zambrano.

Venezuela will play against Dominican Republic on March 7, Italy on March 8, and Australia on March 9 at the first round in Cracker Jack Stadium, Florida.

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