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Vizquel plans to give Blue Jays a walk on wild side

Toronto Blue Jays infielder Omar Vizquel makes a throw during practice at their MLB American League spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

Mike Cassese/Reuters

Toronto Blue Jays players should mark July 30 down in their calendar as a significant date in their 2102 schedule.

The Blue Jays will be in Seattle to begin a series against the Seattle Mariners and it could also be a time when a kangaroo comes a-calling.

Omar Vizquel has accomplished a lot during his 23-year major-league baseball career and it is quite likely he is headed to the Hall of Fame as a result.

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It turns out that Vizquel is also a gentleman farmer of sorts, who maintains a zoo in his off-season home in the Seattle area.

The zoo is a bit smaller now, but at its zenith it contained a wide range of exotic animals, from kangaroos to ostriches, donkeys, horses, llamas, monkeys, chickens "and all kinds of dogs," said the 44-year-old.

"We cut down on the zoo a lot," Vizquel said Saturday morning, as he prepared for the Blue Jays' first full-squad workout here at spring training. "We still keep some animals but most of them are gone. I just moved to a smaller house, so we didn't have the space that they deserve so we had to get rid of a lot of animals. It was too bad. The kids really love the animals."

Right now Vizquel said his menagerie is down to two pigs, three kangaroos, some chickens and two lemurs.

And should Vizquel make the Blue Jays roster out of spring training as the utility outfielder, he said he might bring one of the kangaroos into the clubhouse when Toronto makes its trek to Seattle in July.

Just for a little visit.

That's what he did several years back when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. Of course, back then his kangaroos were all babies so it made the transport a bit easier.

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"Some of the guys were kind of scared but a lot of them were really curious and they started taking pictures," Vizquel said. "It was a fun time."

Vizquel was asked what kind of pets kangaroos make. An adult Red Kangaroo – Vizquel said he has one – can grow to be over six feet tall and weigh up to 200 pounds.

It's not like you can play fetch with them or anything like that, but Vizquel said they make good pets.

"One of them was very nice, will come to people," Vizquel said. "And the other one, he doesn't care much about people. They all have their own little personalities.

"There's one of them who likes to fight because he thought he had the power over the other two. And he doesn't like anybody to get close to the cage. You have to kind of sneak in and sneak out, stuff like that, because he'll get really territorial."

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