Vizquel, Machado help host local youth event

Kids tour Comerica Park, ask former, current shortstop questions at Día en el Parque

August 11th, 2017
More than 100 youth baseball and softball players had fun at Comerica Park Friday. (Jordan Horrobin)

DETROIT -- Adrian Morales had seen Omar Vizquel before, but only in highlights on YouTube. On Friday afternoon, the 14-year-old Morales saw Vizquel, the former Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop and current Detroit first-base coach, in person, along with shortstop , at the Tigers' fourth-annual Día en el Parque event at Comerica Park.

More than 100 youth baseball and softball players from local teams -- the Southwest Aztecs Baseball Organization and the Clark Park Coalition -- gathered to tour the ballpark and join in a question-and-answer session with Vizquel and Machado.

The festivities were part of Detroit's 12th-annual ¡Fiesta Tigres! celebration going on throughout the weekend. Other events include live entertainment from salsa and merengue bands on Saturday, as well as a ceremonial first pitch from ex-Tiger before Saturday's game.

After receiving navy T-shirts with a script "Tigres" in white on the front, the participants went in the Tigers' dugout and played catch on the outfield grass. Morales enjoyed the chance to be on a Major League field for the first time.

"You're stepping on what MLB players are playing on," Morales said. "Like [Miguel] Cabrera, [Mike] Trout in center when they come and visit."

A group interview with Machado and Vizquel followed, where the eager young ballplayers asked questions in English and Spanish, some related to baseball and some not. They wondered what it takes to bounce back from committing an error and how Vizquel transitioned from player to coach, while also asking about favorite foods and why Machado chose to pursue baseball over soccer.

Vizquel and Machado, who both signed as international prospects from Venezuela in their teenage years, related to the kids who looked up to them with Major League aspirations. One piece of advice they passed on was the importance of listening to adults as they go for their dreams.

"You gotta listen to your parents, your coaches," Machado said. "We think that we know a lot [when we're young], but we don't."

Machado smiled as he thought about how fun the event was for him and the young players, as well as what it would've been like to be in their shoes looking up at someone who'd already reached their goal.

"I remember when I was little having the same feeling," he said. "You want to sit with Major League players, ask them some questions. I think that it's great for them. I hope we keep doing this."