Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Vladimir Guerrero the most talented freak of nature

Of the 98 players this year in the Major Leagues born in the Dominican Republic one of the most talented is Vladimir Guerrero. How do you teach somebody to hit a ball that is on top of the shoes or throw the ball on the air from right field to third base ? You don’t, just like speed, you either have it or you do not.

By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

I first talked with Vladimir when he was a very young and skinny outfielder for the Montreal Expos in the late 1990’s. He has not changed much, he just started his fourth season with the Angels and his eleventh season in the Major Leagues overall.

"Nunca usastes guantillas para batear? "Did you ever used batting gloves?"
"No, nunca, ni desde que era nino" "No,never even when I was a kid"
"No te salen ampollasen las manos? "Don’t you get blisters in your hands?"
"De verdad que no, no tengo problemas, me pongo un poco de tape en los dedos y eso es todo" "For real, no, I do not have any problems like that I just cover some of my fingers with tape".

You talk about "old school"there is nobody more old school than Vladi, he is a happy-go-lucky smiling Dominican. This is a man that was born to play the game of baseball. As simple as that.

For the second consecutive season in 2006 he lead all Major League outfielders in batting average 329 which was the fifth highest average in the American League.

In Nizao Bani, Dominican Republic, the little town where he was born he is "el hombre"and when the Angels are on television just about the whole town tunes in. He still single and used to live with his mother when he and his brother Wilson played in Montreal. He is as humble as when he was playing in Montreal for Felipe Alou’s team. He tells me that he is "lucky to have played for two excellent managers in Alou and Mike Scioscia. I asked him about Mike Scioscia’s Spanish(since Vladi speak very little English) "Oh, it is great, that he can speak Spanish and he communicates very well with all players here Hispanic and non Hispanics".

This past March during a game at Tempe Diablo Stadium Vladimir faced Royals right hander Gil Meche. Meche threw a pitch that almost hit Vladi in his left shoe top, Guerrero took a swing and hit a laser that hit the left center field fence. You cannot teach that, just like you cannot teach to throw the ball from right field on the fly to third base. These are talents that God gave Guerrero and if you do not believe in God, who is responsible for his hitting ? No batting coach would take claim to that ! Roberto Clemente and Yogi Berra where the only other hitters that I can remember that could hit like that.

Vicente Padilla, pitcher for the Texas Rangers told me about Vladimir:
"I try to get him out but he probably hit like .800 against me, he is the most incredible hitter I have ever faced, I can throw a ball over his head and he probably will hit it,if I come down-and-in he can also hit it".
Padilla hit Guerrero in the forearm during a game last August and during the next at bat he threw two pitches that sailed over Guerrero’s head.
I asked Guerrero about that during the recent three game sweep by the Angels over the Rangers and he told me there is not bad blood between him and Padilla. Plus Padilla is one of those pitchers that like to "experiment"when he is on the mound.

Everybody has their favorite team and favorite player and fans should root for their teams and players but Vladimir Guerrero is one guy that you cannot really root against. He is humble,sincere and just like to play baseball, as simple as that. I think he would play for free if they let him,

Vladi has the numbers and he has the talent, but in my opinion his personality is his biggest asset. You don’t see him mad for more than a few seconds even when he strikes out. In this clubhouse here in Anaheim there are no team clowns, but Guerrero is the leader, not by making noise but by leading by example, always early to put his uniform always ready to tke batting practice,always ready to talk to the younger Hispanic players on the team. Whatever he makes as far as salary is concerned, he is worth every penny.

How many players can you name better than Guerrero ? Probably not that many. But and most important, Vladimir makes the game fun, he loves the game and shows that enthusiasm every time he takes right field or comes to the plate. Watching Vladimir Guerrero play everyday is a real treat and if his knees are healthy the Angels of 2007 could be a special team.

Amaury is on his first season as Spanish Voice for the Angels over the powerful 50,000 Watts KLAA 830 AM. His partner is Jose Mota who does commentary and also goes from the Spanish booth with Amaury to join Mark Gubicza on the English television network of the Angels. Amaury and Jose broadcast all 162 games home and away in Spanish 830 AM the Los Angeles area,the largest Hispanic radio and television market in the United States. The station 830 AM is also owned by Arturo Moreno, the owner of the Angels ballclub and number one fan. Amaury’s permanent home has been Fremont,California since 1979.


1 Randy_Bell { 04.06.07 at 11:03 am }

Well they don’t call him "BadVlad" for nothing .. 🙂

2 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

3 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:50 pm }

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