Omar Vizquel named Venezuela manager after players threatened boycott

Omar Vizquel has been confirmed as the manager of the Venezuelan national team that will compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The announcement made by the country's baseball federation on Friday night puts an end to a series of twists that triggered a potential boycott among Venezuela's key players.

Vizquel, the Detroit Tigers' first-base coach and a Caracas native, had been in a limbo since ESPNDeportes.com reported Tuesday night that he had been fired from his managerial post with Venezuela and replaced by Atlanta Braves first base coach Eddie Perez.

MLB confirmed Wednesday morning that Team Venezuela was making a managerial change and that Perez would be the new manager for the upcoming WBC.

In response, several players of Venezuela's national squad said they would withdraw from the team if Vizquel was dismissed.

"We spoke with Miguel Cabrera, Salvador Perez and others. A decision was made: We would only play if Vizquel is our manager," said pitcher Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, while speaking to the Union Radio 1090 AM station in Venezuela. "Vizquel is an insignia [for our country], so I wouldn't play if he's not the manager."

Hernandez was appointed by Vizquel as Venezuela's starting pitcher for the opening game against Puerto Rico, set to take place on March 10 in Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Throughout the week, Vizquel kept waiting for a phone call from Carlos Guillen, general manager of Venezuela's team, whom was responsible for removing Vizquel from his managerial post earlier in the week.

During the early hours of Friday, the scenario changed when Vizquel announced via Twitter that the two had finally connected.

"I called [Guillen] and we talked. We also met during the afternoon," Vizquel tweeted in Spanish.

According to multiple media reports in Venezuela, the confusion stemmed from a conflict between Guillen and Vizquel.

Guillen, a three-time All-Star, played 14 seasons in the majors with the Tigers and the Mariners. Before becoming a Tigers coach, Vizquel won 11 Gold Glove Awards in 24 major league seasons.

Also speaking for the Union Radio 1090 AM, Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez echoed the support for Vizquel: "I would definitely not play if Omar is not there; I wouldn't support those behind [Vizquel's removal]."

Many other players have also voiced their support, including Chicago Cubs reliever Hector Rondon and Colorado Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra.

"We spoke and we are all in the same frequency: We won't play without Vizquel," said Parra. "I believe that players -- at least those who are in the provisional roster -- have to be consulted before making any changes in the managerial post."

Venezuela remains as one of the favorites to win the 2017 tournament. Japan was crowned champion in 2006 and 2009; the Dominican Republic won the championship in 2013.

Venezuela's baseball federation will hold a news conference on Saturday as a follow-up to the announcement.
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