SAN FRANCISCO -- Three hours before gametime at AT&T Park, fans were lining up at all gates for Sunday's game against the Rockies. Sure, there is the home run chase with Barry Bonds and the clear skies for an afternoon baseball game in San Francisco. But the main reason fans were lining up was for a white rectangular box labeled: Omar Vizquel bobblehead. The first 20,000 fans received a bobblehead, and Vizquel got a day off, his second of the season.
The shortstop has been a fan favorite during his 17-year Major League career and was a big part of the Indians' success during his 10 years with the club. In his second season with the Giants, he is making a big impression. "He's a happy-go-lucky guy," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "He brings a lot of relaxation to the team: in the clubhouse, in the game, in the airplane, everywhere. He's a special player." Starting pitcher Matt Cain said that Vizquel gives him advice while he is on the mound and that the little things that Vizquel says can make a difference in game situations. "Omar talks to me about what he sees, throwing-wise, not necessarily mechanics," said the 21-year-old right-hander. "He just [gives me advice on] the way I throw and to stick with what is working. [Vizquel says] don't change something if you see a guy isn't hitting certain pitches, just keep going at him with that same pitch." It's hard to ignore advice from a shortstop that has played behind pitchers such as Bartolo Colon, Orel Hershiser and Jack McDowell. It's also hard to ignore 10 Gold Glove Awards and the best all-time fielding percentage (.984) for a shortstop. In his first season with the Giants in 2005, he notched the best single-season fielding percentage (.988) by a Giants shortstop. He had eight errors in 668 chances. This season, he has one error in 202 chances (.995), but what stands out more is what he is doing in the batter's box. Vizquel, a .275 lifetime hitter, has only one season under his belt when he batted over .300. In 1999 with the Indians, he hit .333, and his previous high was .297 in 1996. This April, he started out blazing with a .375 average and a .470 on-base percentage, with his biggest output coming against Atlanta on April 8, when he went 4-for-4 with three runs and five RBIs. He toned down a little bit in May, and his average dropped to .285 on May 19 after an 0-for-4 game against Oakland. But over the past seven games, he is 10-for-21 with four multihit games. He now sits at a .309 average to lead the Giants in batting. The switch-hitter also leads the team in runs scored and stolen bases. By the way, he's 39. "That's amazing," Cain said. "Some of his genetics have got to be good. He still runs well; he's just a great athlete. Seems like he'll never get tired of the game, [and] he is having fun every time he is out there." Giants third baseman Pedro Feliz said that he would like to find Vizquel's fountain of youth. "I don't know if there are any secrets [with Vizquel], but I would like to know what they are if there is any," Feliz said. Down with the flu: Second baseman Ray Durham was a late scratch for Sunday's lineup with the flu. He was replaced with 24-year-old Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen is hitting .239 on the season and played second from April 28 to May 11 when Durham was on the disabled list. Another day off? Alou said that Bonds might get Monday's game off in Florida. He also said that Sunday would be "a perfect day" for Bonds to hit No. 715. "The ball goes far in the day," Alou said. "[AT&T Park] is a small ballpark in the day." In Spring Training, Alou said that he thought Bonds would hit his milestone homer by the end of April. Up next: The Giants will play a three-game series at Florida that starts Monday. Matt Morris (3-5, 5.49 ERA) will look to bounce back after a bad start against St. Louis, opposing southpaw Scott Olsen (2-3, 6.64 ERA).
Ryan Quinn is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.