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Sandy Alomar Jr. returns to Las Vegas for Big League Weekend

Updated February 28, 2020 - 3:36 pm

He was a star in Las Vegas before he became one in the major leagues, arguably the best to ever lace up cleats at old Cashman Field.

This weekend, Sandy Alomar Jr., who has somehow turned 53, will get his first look at Las Vegas Ballpark as acting manager of the Cleveland Indians against the Oakland Athletics in the return of Big League Weekend.

Santos Alomar Velazquez Jr. spent two seasons in Las Vegas with the old Triple-A Stars. He was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 1988 and 1989 when Benito Santiago was blocking home plate as the San Diego Padres’ catcher.

After the Padres traded Alomar Jr. to Cleveland, he become a six-time American League All-Star. Were it not for injuries, they might be preparing a place for him in Cooperstown instead of a cozy seat in the corner of the dugout at Las Vegas Ballpark.

“Sandy had two phenomenal seasons here with the Las Vegas Stars, and he’s one of the greatest guys I’ve been fortunate to know in the game,” Aviators president Don Logan said.

Three other things to look for during the first of two Big League Weekends in Las Vegas:

Francisco Lindor

The Indians are three seasons removed from coming up just short in an epic World Series against the Chicago Cubs, but most of the stalwarts from that team have moved on.

A most notable exception: Shortstop Francisco Lindor, one of baseball’s best all-around players. At 26, Lindor already is a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and two-time Silver Slugger, and he will be trying to lead rebuilding Cleveland to a seventh consecutive winning season under manager Terry Francona.

Lindor wears No. 12, but you won’t need a scorecard to spot him. He’ll be the one with the biggest queue of autograph seekers after batting practice.

Jesus Luzardo

Local fans who missed the left-hander’s brief stint with the Aviators last season — Luzardo pitched in three games for Las Vegas after a lat strain delayed his promotion to the A’s — will get another chance Sunday when manager Bob Melvin hands him the ball as Oakland’s starting pitcher.

Again rated the A’s top prospect by Baseball America, Luzardo has been penciled in as Oakland’s No. 5 starter in 2020 behind A.J. Puk, who also pitched for the Aviators last summer.

The Peruvian-born Luzardo graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and reportedly was to throw batting practice against his former team on Feb. 14, 2018, before a gunman opened fire, killing 17 and injuring 17.

Other Athletics of note expected to play in Las Vegas include third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Matt Olson, each of whom topped 30 home runs in 2019.

Wind on Sunday

With wind gusts of 35 mph blowing out to center field expected Sunday, those dipping a pensive toe in the swimming pool at Las Vegas Ballpark had better bring their batting helmets. The wind should be less of a factor Saturday under sunny 73 degree skies.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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