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Originally published Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM


Omar Vizquel

The Texas Rangers' Gold Glove shortstop caught something different in the offseason: an 11-foot anaconda, in the wildlands of his native...

The Texas Rangers' Gold Glove shortstop caught something different in the offseason: an 11-foot anaconda, in the wildlands of his native Venezuela. He later released it.

"It was always a dream of mine to go out in the jungle and try to find an anaconda," the 41-year-old Vizquel said. "You see so many movies and so many things about it. I saw it in the zoo and other places, but it would be great just to see it out in the wild."

The former Mariner obviously wasn't swayed by the fact that in those movies, the large snakes are usually wrapped around their victims and trying to squeeze them to death. Anacondas have an average length of 20 feet and usually weigh more than 300 pounds.

"It was just an awesome experience, a lot of adrenaline," Vizquel said.

After last season, Vizquel gathered a couple of buddies for a trip to a wildlife refuge in the Venezuelan state of Apure. They were with a guide in search of an anaconda and to view all the other wildlife as well.

In a video Vizquel shared Friday in the Rangers' clubhouse, he is with a guide when they find the anaconda in water just off the side of a dirt road. The snake, barely visible above the water line, is wrapped around a turtle.

The guide stepped into the shallow water, grabbed the anaconda by the tail and pulled it onto dry land.

"I was a little scared," Vizquel admitted. "Those snakes can eat an alligator."

Still, Vizquel was all smiles when he got his chance to take the agitated snake by the tail. Vizquel eventually held the head of the snake, its mouth opened wide and its body coiling. Anacondas are nonvenomous.

"I'm never going to confront him about anything because he might grab my neck," joked Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.

As for Vizquel, "Yeah, I got it out of my system. But it would be great to go again and try to catch a bigger one."

The Associated Press

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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