Monday, November 21, 2016

Velazquez sacked in Mexicali, replaced by Vizcarra

Gil Velazquez has been fired as manager of the Mexican Pacific League's Mexicali Aguilas.  The 37-year-old Velazquez (pictured), a Los Angeles native who hit .233 over 33 MLB games for the Red Sox, Angels and Marlins between 2008 and 2013, had been hired in the offseason to replace last winter's MexPac Manager of the Year, Edgar Gonzalez, who stepped down to manage Mexico's national team at next year's World Baseball Classic.  Velazquez was replaced last Thursday by Roberto Vizcarra, skipper of the Quintana Roo Tigres during the summer Mexican League season.

Velazquez had the Aguilas at 14-17 at the time of his firing, not a bad record in and of itself, but Mexicali had won just two of their previous eleven contests following a 12-8 start out the gate.  In a statement announcing the former infielder had been sent packing, the team gave the usual thanks for Velazquez' service (a seemingly ubiquitous theme whenever a manager is shown the door in Mexico), but general manager Alejandro Ahumada was quoted by reporter Heriberto Munoz in La Cronica of Mexicali as saying, "In baseball, changes are sometimes necessary in search of the results we've been denied.  For that reason, we've decided to make this move to bring in Roberto Vizcarra for his experience in front of a team with this style of play."

After his 18-year playing career concluded in 2014 when he batted .288 for Yucatan in the LMB (followed by a winter season split between Mexicali and Hermosillo), Velazquez was a coach for the Dodgers' Arizona Rookie League team in 2015 before spending last summer managing LA's Class A Great Lakes affiliate in the Midwest League, leading the Midland, Michigan team to a 65-75 mark and a playoff berth.

Roberto "Chapo" Vizcarra spent 23 seasons as a player in the Mexican League between 1986 and 2008, batting .304 with 235 homers and 233 stolen bases in 2,219 games as a middle infielder for five teams.  His best year was in 1991, when he hit .322 with 24 homers and 87 RBIs for Leon.  Vizcarra has spent the past three years managing the LMB Tigres, leading the Cancun squad to an overall 190-135 record and the 2015 Liga pennant.