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Guillen out: Ozzie manages last game with Sox

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Guillen out: Ozzie manages last game with Sox

Monday, Sept. 26, 2011Posted: 7:56 p.m. Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2:15 a.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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READ: White Sox statement on Ozzie Guillen
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Ozzie Guillens career with the White Sox came to a sudden and crashing end, with speed gathering throughout a Chicago win that quickly became an afterthought.

Pregame promise

After a pregame session that seemed to proffer some hope that the team and Guillen may still remain married despite the manager refusing to back down from his demand for more money and years from the White Sox, the divorce proceedings began.

The chronically honest Guillen played a fairly good poker hand in the dugout, joking that players should wear Save Ozzie shirts and discussing his demands to owner Jerry Reinsdorf during their Monday morning meeting calmly and cogently.

WATCH: Ozzie's pregame press conference
But later, after the game, Ozzie admitted that he knew right away that he wouldnt be coming back to the White Sox after meeting with the owner, who he has alternately considered a father and a god.

In-game twists

At midgame, the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story that Guillen would be managing his last game and was on the verge of being dealt to the Florida Marlins, while ESPN reported that Ozzie had told his team before the game that he was managing his last game.

Still, with no confirmed sources or word from the White Sox, there was too much conjecture to take in. Twitter was set ablaze by the news, and Guillen soon was either being traded, quitting or being fired.

Around the seventh-inning stretch, CSNChicago.com got an inkling that something very real was happening, as it confirmed something going down: Per Ozzies request, there would be a postgame news conference addressing the rumors, where both he and general manager Ken Williams would talk. It was a safe bet the time wouldnt be spent announcing a contract extension.

By games end, the remaining fans cheered not the White Sox 4-3 win but Ozzie, as by then it was well sensed he was leaving the U.S. Cellular diamond for the last time. After the last out, the White Sox distributed a press release confirming the divorce, noting that Guillen was released from his contract and that the club was due compensation if Guillen managed elsewhere in 2012.

The team? Sure, the speculation all pointed to the Florida Marlins, but Guillens Ozzie Speaks blog confirmed it while the ninth inning was still being played.
READ: Ozzie to Marlins? Blog, er, book it

Postgame reaction: Ozzie and Kenny

WATCH: Guillen's full press conference Williams' full press conference

Guillen hit the podium first and was at once effusive and contrite. He indicated he had no regrets about his White Sox career, even if the gilded World Series season of 2005 was thrown out of the mix.

He also reacted with reticence rather than bluster when it came to considering his future away from the White Sox, admitting he was unsure whether it would turn out to be a good move and never quite admitting that the break was necessary for him.

Jerry knew it was a decision I had to make, Guillen said. I appreciate that he did.

Guillen repeated his words from the past week, where he insisted fans not blame anyone but those who wore the White Sox uniform for this disappointing season.

There have been a lot of ups and downs, yes, he said. Its not been fun over the last few years. I went though a lot of things, and I handled them very well. I know I can manage anywhere after this.

Later, away from the field, Ozzie sent out several tweets of appreciation, some singling out Omar Vizquel and others directed more generally.

While Guillen felt he could leave U.S. Cellular Field for the last time with his head held high, Williams felt otherwise, admitting that on Wednesday and seasons end he will feel embarrassed for the deflating 2011 season.

It was an introspective and subdued Williams who addressed the media, sure to place the full focus on honoring Guillen and not steering toward the teams managerial search or even discussing the interim manager to end the season (said to be bench coach Joey Cora, who is likely to follow Ozzie to Florida).

Why did it have to come to this? Williams asked rhetorically. I dont have answers. Its hard to pinpoint where we got off track. Winning cures a lot of that. Were very competitive around here and sometimes you can get frustration building and things go awry that way. Theres never been any doubt of what everyones intentions are here: To win and win in a big way.

Williams admitted that he never envisioned the end of he and Ozzies relationship coming under these circumstances, but he did realize Guillen needed a commitment that the team was unprepared to offer.

Unlike the more vague notion of compensation addressed in the White Sox postgame release, Williams was more succinct in saying there would be compensation due the White Sox if Ozzie manages one particular team in 2012.

Clubhouse reaction
WATCH: Pierzynski sad to see Ozzie goWATCH: Konerko feels Ozzie "got the job done"

It was two of the longest-tenured White Sox who stuck around after 30 minutes of conferences to talk with the media about Guillen.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, much more the ice to Ozzies fire over the course of their seven-year itching, was predictably casual in his contemplation.

It was an interesting day, to say the least, a weird way to start and end the day, he said. You never know whats gonna happen, especially with the White Sox. This is what everybody thought was best. Give credit to Jerry for letting Guillen do what he wants to do. But its never a good day when a manager has to leave.

Paul Konerko, with Guillen for the managers entire White Sox tenure, was moved, but philosophical about the parting.

It probably needed to be done, on both sides, he said. Ozzies been kind of burned out on this whole thing, likewise on the other side. But it doesnt have to be 'one sides right and ones wrong.

While the easy shorthand is to call Guillen a tempestuous, even foolhardy jefe, Pierzynski admired his steadfast consistency: He never let the job get to him. It didnt change him. He had a great run.

Konerko went a step farther, repeating several times that Guillen got it done in winning a title with the White Sox.

In the big picture, he got it done, Konerko said. His coaches got it done. Theyll never be able to take that title away from him.

Both players were touched by Guillens parting, pregame words.

To see him talk, it was sad, Pierzynski said of watching Guillen struggle to thank his players. He will be missed.

He was relieved, more than anything, Konerko said. He struggled a little, and tried to joke the emotion away.

The Captain does foresee a quieter final two years of his contract in 2012 and 2013 under a different field manager, but doesnt regret the ride one bit.

This teams been around for more than 100 years, and Ive been right in the middle of its craziest times, he smiled. Its never been boring.
A personal note

It turns out I picked a good day to say my final goodbye to Ozzie for the season, not knowing it was goodbye for good.

Although I have written a book on Ozzie (the pithy and cogent 2006 tome, The Wit and Wisdom of Ozzie Guilen) still I have never shared with him his impact on me as a young player.

When Guillen was traded to the White Sox prior to 1985, I was still growing into myself as a baseball player, an infielder like him. My father seized on a Jerome Holtzman story about the rookie and highlighted passages of it all Ozzie quotes about his dedication to getting better and proving he was a great addition to the White Sox.

I kept that article for a long time as a player, complete with my fathers notes in the margins.

Last year I gave a Roberto Clemente DVD to Ozzie at seasons end, touching enough for such a big fellow fan but not as personal as my story today. Ozzie indeed was an inspiration to me as a player, and in a strange way, as a White Sox writer.

I dont know what impact the story I shared with Ozzie will have on him as he whirlwinds his way to Miami, but Im happy for having told it, for more than just the reason that after tonight, hes gone from the White Sox for good.

Godspeed, Ozzie.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Eloy Jimenez hammers home White Sox need for outside fix: 'I don't feel comfortable playing DH'

Eloy Jimenez hammers home White Sox need for outside fix: 'I don't feel comfortable playing DH'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Eloy Jimenez has said it before, but in case you needed a reminder, he's got one for you.

“I don’t feel comfortable playing DH,” he said in an interview with MLB.com's Jon Morosi on Monday. “I like playing the outfield. I don’t care if it’s right field or left field, but I feel comfortable in the outfield. I don’t like being the DH. For me, it’s boring.

“Maybe one time in my career — when I’m 35 or 37 — I can DH. But not now.”

So that suggestion that the White Sox can plug their hole at designated hitter with Jimenez? Forget about it.

That never really seemed like it was going to happen, anyway, despite a defensive performance in left field during the 2019 season that sparked questions of where Jimenez's long-term future will be. Manager Rick Renteria went as far as saying that he believed the White Sox wouldn't be doing what was best for the young slugger if the team moved him to a full-time DH role so early in his career.

"He's too young for me to view him as a DH, to be honest,” Renteria said in August. “And I think he's shown so much improvement in the outfield that it would be, I think, derelict on my part and on our part as an organization to limit the ability for him to play on both sides of the baseball.

“He's an extremely hard worker, he's very conscientious, he's been going through a lot of the things that we need him to go through. He sincerely has improved out there a lot. And so we want to see if we can maximize his ability to do everything he can as a Major League Baseball player.

“And then time will tell us. If that ends up ultimately being his lot — I don't foresee that. But if that ultimately becomes his lot, that becomes his lot. But I think right now we're going to continue to use him on both sides of the baseball, for sure.”

Indeed, Jimenez looked like a defensive work in progress in left field during his rookie season. He had plenty of less-than-graceful plays, communication errors, minus-11 Defensive Runs Saved and a couple of trips to the injured list sparked by miscues in left field. But Jimenez views himself as an all-around player, as do the White Sox, and he obviously has plenty of time to develop into just that. He's already got the power down, with 31 homers as a rookie.

His comments to Morosi hammer home the need for the White Sox to look outside their own roster to fill that hole at designated hitter, where they got some of the worst production in the American League last season. Jimenez harbors the same opinion toward the position that Jose Abreu does, the free-agent first baseman who's still expected to re-sign with the White Sox saying numerous times how much he dislikes DH-ing. Zack Collins might find the job more palatable, and the White Sox are looking for ways to get his bat in the lineup more often. But he remains a bit of a mystery from a production standpoint and wouldn't figure to line up for a shot at an everyday job at this very early stage of his career.

J.D. Martinez deciding to stay in Boston and stay away from this winter's free-agent market took the perfect solution off the board. But that market or the trade market — one that could still include the possibility of Martinez coming to the South Side — still seem the best way for Rick Hahn's front office to find a fix.

One thing's looks to be certain: Jimenez isn't signing up for everyday DH duty any time soon.

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Eloy Jiménez: Worth the wait

Eloy Jiménez: Worth the wait

With Eloy Jiménez, we had to wait.

We had to wait for him to debut in the Majors. After laying waste to minor league pitching in 2018, he was in the 2019 opening day lineup.

We had to wait for that first home run. He started his MLB career with 11 singles in his first 10 games. His first extra-base hit was in his next game. Then in game number twelve, he finally homered. Twice.

He was the 11th player in White Sox history whose first 2 career long ones were in the same game. 

Eloy Jiménez Apirl 12, 2019
José Abreu April 8, 2014
Brian Anderson August 26, 2005
Brian Simmons September 26, 1998
Greg Pryor September 8, 1978
Wayne Nordhagen August 25, 1977
Carlos May April 9, 1969
Tom McCraw June 19, 1963
Brian McCall September 30, 1962
Don Kolloway June 28, 1941
Zeke Bonura April 18, 1934

My favorite fun fact from that breakout performance: Jiménez was the first player to hit his first 2 MLB home runs in the same game as a visitor at Yankee Stadium (old or new) since [former White Sox great] Manny Ramírez on September 3, 1993.

But then we had to wait again. Because he kept homering on the road. His first 8 career MLB blasts were all on the road. He's the third White Sox player whose first 8 career MLB home runs all came as a visiting player. The others were Nellie Fox (his first 9 were on the road spanning from 1951-54) and Johnny Mostil (his first 8 were on the road in 1921-22).

That first home run at Guaranteed Rate Field came on June 11, and it went FAR,  and from that point forward he hit 11 on the road and 12 at home.

Number 30 came on September 22 in Detroit, and with that came a few more interesting notes.

Jiménez is one of only three White Sox to hit 30+ home runs as a rookie. 

1983 Ron Kittle 35
2014 José Abreu 36
2019 Eloy Jiménez 31

Jiménez is the youngest player in White Sox history at the time of his 30th HR of the season. 

22 y, 299 d Eloy Jiménez 2019
23 y, 98 d Frank Thomas 1991
25 y, 75 d Bill Melton 1970

And perhaps most impressively, Jiménez is one of only 11 players in MLB history to hit 30+ home runs in his debut season. Here's that list:

1930 Wally Berger Braves 38
1939 Ted Williams Red Sox 31
1956 Frank Robinson Reds 38
1963 Jimmie Hall Twins 33
1986 Pete Incaviglia Rangers 30
2001 Albert Pujols Cardinals 37
2007 Ryan Braun Brewers 34
2014 José Abreu White Sox 36
2017 Cody Bellinger Dodgers 39
2019 Pete Alonso Mets 53
2019 Eloy Jiménez White Sox 31

Jiménez finished his rookie campaign on a tear, pummeling pitching for a .321/.355/.604 clip over his last 46 games. At last the waiting was over. Eloy Jiménez had arrived.

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