Notes: Vizquel excited about Classic

Catcher Alfonzo sidelined; Fassero, Simon delayed

Omar Vizquel helped raise more than $500,000 to assist children and families of the Venezuelan flood and mudslide in December 1999.  (Ben Margot/AP)

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The last time Omar Vizquel represented his native Venezuela in a baseball event was during the Little League World Series in Caracas in the late '70s.

"The uniform was bright orange and blue," said Vizquel, who was a 10-year-old sprite then, little knowing he would have an illustrious Major League career spanning 17 seasons until he could again don the colors of his country.

Next month, the 38-year-old Giants shortstop will put on a burgundy and beige uniform as captain of the Venezuelan squad competing in the World Baseball Classic, and he and his countrymen are stoked about the tournament.

"There's a lot of excitement surrounding the whole thing," he said of his homeland. "Venezuela just won the world Caribbean Series title, which we hadn't done in about 16 years. Now, the only thing you talk about [back home] is baseball, baseball, baseball, 24 hours a day."

Vizquel feels honored merely to represent Venezuela in the WBC, which runs March 3-20, and if his country makes it to the finals in San Diego, the team would have to play in Orlando, Fla., and Puerto Rico first.

Thousands of miles and multiple games to go, but Vizquel -- who appears to have about as much body fat now as he did 28 years ago -- is anxious to begin this new adventure.

"I guess this is going to be the opportunity of a lifetime for me because I only have a couple years left in baseball -- maybe three or four," said Vizquel, who arrived in camp Thursday, four days early. "I heard the [WBC] will be every four years now, so the next event I may not be a part of it."

Although Vizquel is part of the geriatric Giants -- the outfield at midseason could feature a trio of 40-somethings in Barry Bonds, Steve Finley and Moises Alou -- his athleticism has hardly lessened over his career.

He won his 10th Gold Glove in 2005 despite moving to the National League for the first time, positioning himself against an array of new hitters and facing the variety of infields.

Vizquel complained he played "terribly" at the start of the season -- not that anybody noticed -- and despite feeling he had a terrific defensive campaign overall, the Gold Glove seemed out of reach.

Yet he managed to snare that, too.

"I was surprised with the support," said Vizquel. "I wasn't thinking about it. I feel like I played at the top of my game, but being new in the league I wasn't sure they'd vote for me."

Vizquel became the oldest shortstop to win the Gold Glove, led all Major Leaguers with a .98802 fielding percentage, wowed Giants fans with his acrobatic play and played flawlessly in 113 of his last 118 games.

Old? Hardly.

"I don't feel I'm a 38-year-old guy yet," laughed Vizquel. "Last year I played in [152] games and was diving into first base, making the plays on the field. I never felt tired or needed a day off."

Vizquel will miss the Giants' Cactus League games, but he'll have few days off starting March 7, when Venezuela faces the Dominican Republic in the opening Pool D game in Orlando.

Alfonzo rehabbing: Minor League catcher Eliezer Alfonzo had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Jan. 11 to remove loose bodies and should be game ready by early March, according to trainer Stan Conte.

Alfonzo hit. 313 for the Double-A Connecticut Defenders last year.

Cervenak to Korea: Infielder Mike Cervenak, who hit .312 with 19 homers for Triple-A Fresno last season, is in Spring Training with Korea's Kia Tigers at Charlotte Sports Park.

Cervenak had solid seasons in the Giants' organization, but at 29 he was an in-betweener -- too old for a prospect and not yet a sixth-year free agent.

Not in camp: Veteran reliever Jeff Fassero, who missed Wednesday's reporting day and also Thursday's initial workout, is expected to be in Scottsdale on Friday. Also out is pitcher Alfredo Simon, who has visa problems in his native Dominican Republic.

Rich Draper is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.