Sunday, Mar. 7, 2010
Updated: 11:39 P.M.
By Chuck Garfien
When the White Sox season went off the tracks in 2009, there apparently wasn't much love in the air at 35th and Shields.
"Kenny (Williams) hated me. Everybody hated everyone. I hated Jerry(Reinsdorf). I hated my players. My players hated me," Guillen said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.
I was following up on comments the White Sox manager made in February to the Sun-Times, when Guillen first expressed the mutual disgust that apparently arose as the team was knocked out of contention. Ozzie said, "Kenny Williams hated me, I hated Kenny."
Now that he's added Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to the list, it sounds like they had quite the party going.
But as we know, Ozzie is a rare bird, especially when it comes to his English. He tends to say things for shock value. One week he might declare "I hate Kenny Williams." Next week it might be, "I hate air. I hate gravity."
That's Ozzie Guillen.
But over the last couple months, some have speculated that a rift has developed between manager and general manager, and that it could lead to the eventual firing of Guillen if this season goes south. Personally, I don't see it happening; both the season going in the tank and Williams feeling the need to let Ozzie go. Not even close.
And if it did?
"I told (Kenny), 'The day you're going to fire me, don't look at me as your friend," Guillen said. "You got a job to do. If you think I'm not doing my job, or you think your job is in a dangerous situation because of me, then you should find someone else to do a better job.'"
And this so-called clash between him and his GM?
"I don't care what people think whatever happened between me and Kenny," Guillen said. "I think a few people out there think we hate each other. We disagree with each other, but we're different types of people." He continued, "To me, it's more important to be on the same page with my GM. We got to be friends. It's like a marriage. You're not going to get along with your wife everyday. One day you're going look at her and go, 'Wow!'"
The team that Williams has constructed for 2010 is the kind that Guillen has always wanted, a roster focused on speed, defense, and pitching. When I brought this up to Williams, the Sox GM answered with a smile, "That's what (Ozzie) says, which begs the question, did I give him teams before that sucked or that he didn't want? And I've asked him this question, 'What did you mean by that actually?'"
But now that Guillen has all the tools, what happens if the roof caves in and he's unable to close the leak? Is he more accountable?
"No, we're in this together," Williams said. "If you do that, then the same things can be said when he has deferred to me and it hasn't worked out. Then he can point the finger and say, It's not me, it's that guy. We don't do that We sit down and try to come to decisions together. We're on the same page for the most part, so we're going to sink and swim together."
Guillen feels the same way about his closer Bobby Jenks.
After a difficult 2009 in which he battled injuries, gave up a career-high nine home runs, and heard his name mentioned in trade talk during the winter, Jenks came to camp having dropped two things: his weight(about 25 pounds) and alcohol.
"I'm more impressed about him giving up drinking," Guillen said. "You lose weight, that's his job. When you say 'I give up drinking," I have more respect for him than I did in the past, because I know that's not an easy thing to do. Hopefully he's a strong enough man to keep it the way it is right now."
Jenks has some experienced arms behind him in the pen. Williams traded for former closer J.J. Putz. There's also closer-in-the-making Matt Thornton. How much rope does Jenks have in 2010?
"He's got a lot of rope. He's my man," Guillen said. "I know we got a few people out there. But I'm going to give him the best opportunity he can until he can't anymore."
Note: Chuck's interview with Kenny Williams can be seen on CSNChicago.com on Tuesday.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.