New Tools Can Make Anyone a Pro

By Derek Togerson
|  Monday, Jan 24, 2011  |  Updated 6:15 AM PDT
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When Omar Vizquel takes the field for the White Sox in a couple of months, he'll start a Major League baseball game in his fourth decade.

The 43-year-old has played more games at shortstop than anyone in history. He's seen a lot.

But even he was amazed at the gear surrounding him at the National Baseball Expo in Del Mar.

“Everybody has the chance now to be a Major League Baseball player because of all these tools,” Vizquel said.

“Different kinds of bats with holes on it, and the weight, and the handles, and they can measure your swing, they can measure what kind of bat is good for the size of your hand, they can measure your balance in your legs and so many different things that can improve your long ball swing,” he said.

The Venezuela-born Vizquel has played 22 seasons. The toys he's playing with now would have seemed like they came off the set of Star Wars compared to what he learned the game with.

“We used any kind of stick, we used to cut off some trees and try and find a stick that was more or less straight that we could hit balls with,” he said.

Vizquel will go to the Hall of Fame not for his offense ---- but for his defense. He owns 11 Gold Gloves and a highlight reel that rivals Ozzie Smith. But, aside from new glove designs and better-quality leather, defense has been neglected by modern science.


By the way, Omar leads active players in sacrifices. But with the power tricks he's picked up maybe he'll do less moving runners over, and more driving runners in.

As he said at the show, it's never too late to learn.

“I can't wait to go to a batting cage and try to use these techniques to see if they can really help my swing,” he said.

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