Giants say Vizquel headed to bench
Burriss to get more time at short; Velez tabbed to play second
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barring an unforeseen reversal in philosophy, Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel will become a substitute for the rest of the season.Vizquel said Tuesday that general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy met with him to inform him of his diminished role. Expressing appreciation for their candor, Vizquel insisted that he "completely understood" the move, which will create more playing time for rookie Emmanuel Burriss. "Out of respect to Omar, we wanted to sit down and tell him what the game plan was," Bochy said. "He said he appreciated it and is willing to assume that part-time role." Bochy also said that Eugenio Velez will receive the "lion's share" of playing time at second base in the wake of Ray Durham's departure to Milwaukee in Sunday's trade, although Burriss and Ochoa also can handle the position.
"We think Velez is a more offensive player," Bochy said.Vizquel, who entered Tuesday night's series opener against the Washington Nationals batting .166, anticipated that his days as a regular were numbered. After missing all of Spring Training after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 22 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Vizquel hit .444 (8-for-18) in his first five games following his May 10 activation from the disabled list on May 10. But the switch-hitter quickly cooled off and his average sank below .200 for good on June 14. "Due to my struggling and the way I've been swinging the bat, the decision comes a lot easier," said Vizquel, 41. "I don't want to just end the year sitting on the bench without having a chance to come back and raise your average. But I think they gave me enough chances and I didn't make a move." Vizquel, the all-time leader for games played by a shortstop, seemed at peace as he spoke, although he admitted that his knee injury may have derailed his season before it began.
"It started on a bad note," he said.Vizquel started Tuesday's game, and Bochy indicated that Burriss' playing time wouldn't increase until "a week or so" passed. But Vizquel said that timing is irrelevant.
"I understand perfectly what's going on," he said.Despite occupying a diminished role, Vizquel said that he'd prefer to remain a Giant rather than demand a trade.
"It'd be nice to finish my year here," said Vizquel, who devotes considerable time tutoring Burriss and other younger teammates. "Going to another team isn't going to change anything."Burriss said the announcement won't alter his mind-set.
"Even if I get more playing time, I have to help the team with the smallest things I can do," he said.Nor would it surprise Burriss if Vizquel somehow retained his starting job.
"A guy of Omar's caliber, regardless of if he's slumping or not, they're going to give him more opportunities because of what he has done," Burriss said.But Bochy, who has previously expressed a desire to heighten Burriss' role, sounded more set on the idea this time.
"I'd like to increase Burriss' playing time because he hasn't played much the last couple of weeks," Bochy said of the 23-year-old switch-hitter. Bochy stopped short of declaring that Burriss, who's batting .291 in 50 games, ranked ahead of Ochoa, who has hit .250 in four games since San Francisco purchased his contract from Triple-A Fresno on July 11.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.