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MLB Investigating Domestic Abuse Allegations Against Omar Vizquel

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MLB has launched an investigation into domestic abuse allegations brought against former All-Star shortstop Omar Vizquel by his wife Blanca Vizquel.

According to The Athletic's Katie Strang and Ken Rosenthal, Blanca Vizquel said she endured years of physical abuse before she fled from the couple's Arizona home in August and filed for divorce.

"It's devastating because the person you love is supposed to protect you, and when [he's] the one who's hurting you ... it's like slow motion and you're scared and then the police are there, and you know you can't take it back," Blanca told The Athletic about a January 2016 incident.

During an argument at their Seattle area home, Blanca Vizquel ran to her bedroom and placed dumbbells by the door to keep Omar Vizquel out. He barged in and pushed her, causing her to hurt her shin and break off multiple nails as she fell. Blanca called a neighbor, who contacted the King County Sheriff's Office. Police officers arrested Omar and booked him for fourth-degree domestic assault but he was never prosecuted, according to The Athletic

Omar and Blanca met in 2008 and married in 2014. Blanca told The Athletic that their relationship briefly improved following the 2016 incident, but after his mistreatment returned, she stayed with him because she was scared.

After Blanca began publicly discussing the allegations, Omar told Venezuelan outlet El Pitaza: "I never hit her. I never hit Blanca. … She made the decision to leave me. She made that decision on her own and not because of any domestic violence."

An attorney for Omar Vizquel told The Athletic that he "flatly denies any allegations of domestic violence." A representative for Vizquel also sent The Athletic an 11-page document titled "The facts on the smear campaign against Omar Vizquel," which they said provides "some of the background on the allegations against Mr. Vizquel."

The document mentioned that Vizquel, who played 24 MLB seasons, is a candidate for the Hall of Fame. He is heading into his fourth year of candidacy on the Hall of Fame ballot. He received 52.6% of the vote in 2020. Players must reach the 75% threshold to be inducted.

Vizquel currently manages the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League. The Venezuela native played for the Mariners, Indians, Giants, Rangers, White Sox and Blue Jays throughout his lengthy career. The 11-time Gold Glove winner retired with an impressive .985 career fielding percentage.

In a statement issued to Sports Illustrated, Vizquel denied the allegations.

"Since the initiation of divorce proceedings with my wife, Blanca Garcia, she has taken to social media and the press to engage in a smear campaign against me designed to put pressure on the legal negotiations," the statement read. "In doing so, she seeks to portray me as someone that I am not. Throughout this unfortunate situation, I have been limited in my public statements, because I don't believe that a public media battle is the way to proceed in the dissolution of our marriage. However, I must set the record straight again in light of today's article in The Athletic. Let me be clear and unequivocal. I have never hit or been violent towards my wife, Blanca. Any accusation to the contrary is false."

The statement also said: "As I have done in the past, I will continue to cooperate with Major League Baseball, on any investigation into these matters."

MLB said it is aware of the allegations against Vizquel.

"While Omar Vizquel has not been employed by a major league organization for some time, we are aware of the allegations and will continue to look into them," MLB said in a statement, per The Athletic.

Vizquel was hired in 2019 to manage the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the White Sox, but lasted only one season after the club learned of an incident with a male clubhouse worker. The team first suspended Vizquel while investigating the incident and fired him in mid-September after the season ended. Neither the White Sox nor the clubhouse worker provided details to The Athletic on the incident.

When asked about it, Vizquel said, "I can't really say anything about that because it really—nothing happened."

Blanca Vizquel told The Athletic that after she left Omar in August, she fled to a women's shelter in Texas.

"I made a decision to leave the house and not come back. I didn't want to feel that feeling where you didn't know if you're gonna be safe," she said.