The sun broke through the clouds of volcanic misery ash shrouding the White Sox clubhouse in order to celebrate Omar Vizquel's 44th birthday on Sunday. Everybody had a good time. "Happy 49th Omar!" read the clubhouse's whiteboard. Cake was served.
Vizquel's spirits are noticeably higher than they were around the same point last season, when he openly considered retirement after a poor start. In fact, he thinks he can keep going a few more years, based on how he feels now:
"As long as my body is OK, performing and doing what I ask it to do, right now there’s no reason I can’t [keep playing]," Vizquel said. "I am going to keep trying to play. I don’t need to be on a table getting massages, or a Jacuzzi, or need a personal trainer with me on the road trip. I don’t need any of that stuff—I feel I can still do the same things I’ve been doing for all these years."
He certainly has reason to believe in himself, because not many experience a bounce-back at his age. In fact, he contributed next-to-nothing until he turned 43, and his previous old-assed seasons weren't much better.
Here's what Vizquel has done since he received his "Over the Hill" grab bag, complete with fake prescription pills and a hat with built-in ponytail:
Year No. 44 didn't start out like Vizquel hoped -- he went 0-for-3 and grounding into a double play. But he did draw a walk, and Miguel Cabrera took a hit away from him down the first-base line.
That's too small of a sample to use, anyway. It's always better to look at the last few seasons, and in this case, just about all of Vizquel's numbers are going in the right direction. By every indication, Vizquel's star is clearly on the rise, and the way things are going, he might reach another prime before Gordon Beckham finds his first one.