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Vizquel gets a start in place of Andrus

Vizquel gets a start in place of Andrus

ARLINGTON -- Omar Vizquel made his first start of the season Thursday, his 2,655th game played at shortstop in a potential Hall of Fame career.

He was more into his "Opening Day" of 2009 than the longevity thing in an interview before Thursday's game against the team he made his name with, the Cleveland Indians.

Vizquel spoke like a rookie, talking about good it feels to make the team out of Spring Training. It's something you would expect to hear from his protégé, Rangers phenom Elvis Andrus, not a 21-year veteran playing for his fourth team.

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"It's been a long way for me to play a lot of years," Vizquel said, "And I'm really excited about the chance to be on this team. This team is going to be great."

Vizquel, 41, started Thursday even though the 20-year-old Andrus has already hit his first big league home run and made a few defensive plays that could be called Vizquel-esque.

In fact, Vizquel's starting was a big topic on morning sports talk shows in Dallas-Fort Worth, a strange circumstance when you consider Vizquel is an 11-time Gold Glover.

"I'm always up for the guy that is hot that is supposed to be playing," Vizquel said. "[Manager Ron] Washington realizes he has a good team and he had to rest some guys every once in a while. I know it's early in the season and he probably wanted to give me a shot against my old team and let the other guys [veteran reserves Marlon Byrd and Andruw Jones were both in the starting lineup, too] play a little bit, too."

"It is weird to see [Andrus] on the bench, but I guess he just wants to keep everybody ready, I guess."

Vizquel raved about his pupil, Andrus, the youngest current player in the Major Leagues.

"Wow, he's been great," Vizquel said. "He seems like he's really settled down. I don't think he's really nervous. He looked good out there. He looks like he belongs."

Washington, who played most of his career coming off the bench, mostly for the Twins, understands the importance of keeping all your players ready, Vizquel said.

"[Vizquel] had to get a game somewhere," Washington said. "I'd rather it be a night game than a day game. Elvis has younger eyes."

"He does [understand]," Vizquel said. "He wants to give everybody a good chance to stay sharp."

The fact that the Rangers were opening the season against the Indians wasn't lost on Washington, either. Vizquel spent 11 seasons with Cleveland before playing the past four with the San Francisco Giants.

"It's a special feeling," Vizquel said. "It's not playing with any other team. You know a lot of guys there. It is weird to see them on the other side. At the same time, it's emotional because you know most of them.

"I had a great time in that organization, and most of those guys that are everyday players, I kind of guided them a little bit."

Todd Willis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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