Rangers' Vizquel Gets Indians Fans Cheering Again

Vizquel started at shortstop in Rangers' 8-7 win over Indians

Omar Vizquel hasn't worn an Indians uniform in five years, yet he's still wildly popular with Cleveland fans.

Vizquel, in camp as a non-roster player with Texas, started at shortstop in Monday's 8-7 win over the Indians. He was mobbed by autograph seekers, most of whom were decked out in Indians hats and T-shirts, before the game at Goodyear Ballpark.

Vizquel, who thrilled Cleveland fans for 11 seasons with acrobatic plays in the field and an engaging personality, was given a loud ovation in each of his four plate appearances. The fans cheered him again when he was removed from the game and walked down the right-field line to the Rangers clubhouse, shaking hands and waving along the way.

"I think he shook hands with everyone in the ballpark," said Indians manager Eric Wedge, who exchanged a handshake with Vizquel as he walked by.

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Vizquel, who signed with San Francisco following the 2004 season, returned to Cleveland for the first time when the Giants visited Progressive Field last season. The reception, which included a video tribute and countless standing ovations, touched Vizquel, who will turn 42 next month.

"I never had that kind of ovation in any ballpark," he said. "It went on for three days. I had tears in my eyes."

Vizquel, a winner of 11 Gold Gloves, has been a starter throughout his 20-year career. This season he's expected to serve as a backup and mentor to 20-year-old Elvis Andrus, another Venezuelan shortstop. Vizquel, who will also play second base, isn't sure how he will handle coming off the bench. Nor is he sure if he will play beyond this season after missing the early part of last year because of knee surgery and batting .222 in 92 games.

"I'll see how I feel this year and how I play," he said. "If I have another disappointing season, I don't know if I want to do it again."

Vizquel repeated his desire to manage in the majors. He doesn't want to manage in the minors, but would prefer to coach in the big leagues first.

"I already know how to manage," he said. "I've played the game in my mind every day."

Vizquel had an RBI single in the Rangers' four-run second off starter Aaron Laffey, who's competing for the fifth spot in the Indians' rotation. David Murphy added a two-run single in the inning.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a three-run triple in the third off Rafael Bentacourt.

Beau Mills, Wes Hodges, Chris Gimenez and Ben Francisco had RBIs in Cleveland's four-run fourth. Jordan Brown hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

After making wholesale changes to their lineup, the Rangers batted out of order in the sixth inning, but the mistake was not brought to the umpires' attention.

"We don't keep much track of that in spring training," Wedge said. "I'm not surprised it happened in a game like this."

Rangers right-hander Kris Benson was scratched from his appearance because of tightness in his lower back.

The most significant injury news out of the Indians' camp was suffered by Torey Lovullo, who manages their Triple-A Columbus team and is serving as an extra coach in camp. Lovullo needed nine stitches above his left eye after being struck by a broken bat during Sunday's game against Colorado.

Lovullo was seated in the Indians dugout when Cleveland outfielder Trevor Crowe fouled off a pitch. A piece of the bat flew over the dugout, hitting a screen -- installed for the fans' protection. As Lovullo turned around to see where the bat went, it bounced off the screen and struck him.

"As soon as I turned around, it was right on me," Lovullo said. "I saw I was bleeding right away."

Lovullo was back at the team's complex Monday with a large bandage above his eye, which was almost swollen shut.

"I've got a good story to tell people years from now," he joked.

Notes:@ RHP Matt Harrison started for Texas and allowed one run in three innings. ... OF Josh Hamilton didn't make the trip from the Rangers' camp in Surprise, Ariz., because of tightness in his left Achilles' tendon. He's expected to be back in the lineup in a couple of days. ... LHP Cliff Lee, who went 22-3 and won the Cy Young award last season, threw a simulated game Monday. He's scheduled to make his first start Friday. ... OF Grady Sizemore, sidelined with a strained left groin, could DH later this week.

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