* The falling out between former Blue Jay Omar Vizquel and former Toronto manager John Farrell began in June of 2012. ....
By Bob Elliott
The Omar Vizquel-John Farrell relationship went sideways in June of 2012.
Both men were wearing Blue Jays uniforms.
Both had their own good intentions, but both were on their own paths.
Vizquel is from Venezuela and is the man everyone in his country’s baseball community looks up to -- and not simply because he’s headed to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
He’s admired for what he did in June that season. The Jays back-up infielder chose to fly in the family of starter Henderson Alvarez from Valencia, Venz., to Miami. The family could not afford the flight, and Alvarez was earning basically the major-league minimum of $482,900 US.
The Alvarez family made the seven-hour flight north to see the right-hander pitch against the Marlins. Alvarez was scheduled to start the final game of the series on Sunday June 24.
Farrell had other ideas.
Now, you have to remember this was just days after the not-so-memorable week which saw Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison all walk off the mound with injuries after pitching a combined five innings (facing a total of 25 hitters in the three games).
The Jays headed on the road, starting Alvarez, Jesse Chavez and Joel Carreno in Milwaukee against the Brewers, and then headed to south Florida.
The Alvarez family arrived with one and all giving Vizquel hugs of thanks.
Meanwhile, in the manager’s office, Farrell had decided to bump Alvarez from his scheduled Sunday start to Monday when the Jays were at Fenway Park. Instead, Chavez would pitch the finale of the Marlins series.
Eventually, news filtered to Vizquel. Knowing the expense he’d gone to fly in the Alvarez family for the right-hander’s start, which was now cancelled, the infielder headed for Farrell’s office.
Farrell’s reply was something like, “I’m not running a Little League team here, I’m doing what’s best for the team.”
It was the right call.
Chavez lost to the Marlins, allowing six runs in six innings in a 9-0 loss, as Mark Buehrle pitched seven scoreless.
The next day, Alvarez won, giving up five runs (three earned) in five innings in a 9-6 win over the Red Sox thanks to home runs by Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus.
Vizquel, who thought he had been slighted, began second guessing Farrell on the bench, according to players. Some 13 weeks later he knocked Farrell’s failure to “jump on mistakes” by younger players, telling Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun.
“It’s part of the inexperience. If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over. We have to stand up and say something right after a mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
“Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.”
The next day Farrell screamed at Vizquel behind closed doors and wanted management to release the infielder.
With less than a week remaining in the 2012 season, the Jays did not think it was appropriate to release the future hall of famer.
And now the two are together in the American League: Farrell, the manager of the World Series champion Red Sox, and Vizquel the newly-named first base coach of the Detroit Tigers, after working last year with Los Angeles Angels minor leaguers.
FAREWELL: Sue Cannell, who began working in the Blue Jays ticket booth in 1977 and later moved into the front office has retired. Cannell was president Paul Beeston’s hard-working executive assistant during both his terms in office. And Cannell also looked after Beeston’s Toronto office when he was Major League Baseball CEO and based at the commissioner’s office in New York.
HOME RUN CHAMP: Mat Gamel, who signed a minor-league deal with the Atlanta Braves, won the annual home run derby at Chipola College, beating Jose Bautista. Bautista lost twice before to Jeff Mathis and both seasons went on to lead the AL in home runs. Chipola retired Montreal catcher Russell Martin’s No. 12 uniform.
SYMPATHIES: Are extended to former major-league catcher Joe Siddall of Windsor and his family. Their son Kevin, 14, lost his lengthy battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Joe Siddall still throws batting practice for his old team, the Detroit Tigers. Tigers president Dave Dombrowski drove over from Detroit to pay his respects.
Sympathies are extended to Kevin’s siblings, Brett, Brooke and Mackenzie, mom Tamara and Joe.