If Paul Konerko has his way, Ozzie Guillen’s No. 13 would be retired right up next to his one day at U.S. Cellular Field.
Following a 40-minute ceremony Saturday afternoon in which the White Sox retired his No. 14, Konerko called himself an “Ozzie guy” and offered support for his former manager. Guillen, who managed the White Sox from 2004 to 2011, and executive vice president Kenny Williams recently repaired their strained relationship three and a half seasons after Guillen departed to take over as manager of the Miami Marlins.
A sellout crowd at U.S. Cellular Field roared for Guillen when he was announced at the beginning of Konerko’s ceremony. Guillen was seated with key members of the White Sox, including manager Robin Ventura, Williams, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, play-by-play announcer Hawk Harrelson, general manager Rick Hahn and special assistant to the GM Jim Thome.
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“He’s going to be loved,” Konerko said. “The bottom line is this is professional sports and the man won a World Series as the manager of a team. They are going to love him here. Ozzie was great to me. He treated me great.
“Totally different to the players on the inside than he was on the outside, constantly asking what you needed and taking care of you when you have injuries. Compassionate man and great family guy as far as not only to his own family and your family. If you had anything wrong, baseball was totally secondary. He didn’t care. Go home and take care of that. I don’t care about this game today.
“Players respect that. Very much a players’ manager. He’s going to get back in the game somewhere, whether it’s here or somewhere else. The guy is a baseball man. You don’t play as long as he did at shortstop in the major leagues and not have something to offer.
“I’m an Ozzie guy. I’ll stick up for Ozzie through and through. The guy took care of me. We won together. A lot of people, I know things went down the wrong way. Some of it is his fault, whatever. There also are a lot of people that are sensitive in a lot of situations where it’s just Ozzie, and you know I stick up for Ozzie. He was good to me, and I’ll always be on his side.”
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Guillen led the White Sox to a 678-617 record and a pair of American League Central titles. But he said he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of it without Konerko, whom he asked to take over as the team’s captain in 2006. Guillen said he hopes one day he could join Konerko and have his number retired but also deferred further comment out of respect for his former player.
“I mean, I hope that happens one day, but I’m into that,” Guillen said. “Today is about PK, and I’m going to celebrate No. 14. No. 13, if that ever comes, I hope I’m still alive. But just to enjoy it. I’m so happy and so proud to be part of this because I know how big this thing is for him, for his teammates, his coaching, for the owner, for Kenny. This is a big day not just for him, but for everybody that was involved with him. It’s a big day for him.
“He make our life very happy. He make our life very comfortable. He make me look good. That was the most important thing.”