Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Guillen back in Chicago

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Ozzie Guillen spent 13 years of his 16-year career on the South Side, and the shortstop is still a popular figure in the Chicago area


White Sox General Manager Ken Williams, left, presents new Manager Ozzie Guillen, a former shortstop for the club, with a jersey during a news conference at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois, Monday.


American LeagueOzzie Guillen doesn't care if his new team is filled with high-priced superstars or youngsters looking to make a name for themselves.

As long as they have fun and play hard, the Chicago White Sox's new manager will like them all just fine.

"I don't know about winning and losing, but when you come to this ball park, every player who wears this uniform, they're going to play the game right. If they don't play the game right, they're not going to play for me," Guillen said Monday after he was introduced as the White Sox's new manager.

"We're going to have fun," he added. "But fun is winning and winning is fun. I believe you have fun first and then you win. Then you have more fun in the clubhouse."

Guillen was a three-time All-Star, and ranks among the team's all-time leaders in games played, hits and at-bats.

Still, general manager Kenny Williams took something of a risk hiring his old teammate. Guillen is just 39, and he retired only three years ago. He's been a coach since then -- the last two years as third base coach for the Florida Marlins -- but has no managerial experience. But that didn't stop him from campaigning openly for the job he's always wanted.

"Ozzie has always been a student of the game, and he's a very energetic guy," said catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., a free agent who likely will be back with the White Sox next season. "You can see the desire he has for the game. He always was the same guy, in good times and in bad. You always saw him hustle."

Those are great qualities on the field. But in the dugout?

After firing Jerry Manuel on Sept. 29, Williams initially thought he needed someone with experience, preferably someone who'd been to the postseason. He spoke with Tom Kelly and Jim Leyland to see if they had any interest in getting back in the game, and met with former Toronto manager Cito Gaston.

He was so sure he wanted a veteran manager that he allotted only four hours for his first interview with Guillen, never thinking he'd need more time. Two hours after Guillen walked in the door, Williams knew he had his new manager.

"The passion, the commitment, the energy, the game knowledge, the aggressive attitude," Williams said of what impressed him. "He bleeds White Sox baseball. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to provide something here we desperately need. A jolt, if you will."

While Guillen won't hesitate to call out his players, he's not a heavy-handed disciplinarian, either. He played hard every time he put on a uniform, and that's all he expects to see from his players.

"Just give me the best every day," he said.

If his work with the Marlins is any indication, the White Sox will respond. Guillen was often one of the first to arrive at the Florida clubhouse, and would spend at least an hour hitting ground balls to his kids.

He was popular in the clubhouse, especially among Latin players. Outfielder Miguel Cabrera -- like Guillen, a Venezuelan _ idolized the coach growing up, and was thrilled to be able to work with him in Florida. He and catcher Ivan Rodriguez became close friends.

"He brings a vibrance and an excitement that not many coaches do," Marlins pitcher Carl Pavano said. "He's going to be a great manager."

He may not have the experience, but Guillen said this is a job he's been preparing for since he broke into the majors with the White Sox in 1985. He won American League Rookie of the Year honors that year, hitting .273 with 33 RBIs and setting a White Sox record for shortstops with just 12 errors.

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