Notes: Guillen unfazed by criticism
Many put manager on hot seat on the heels of rough season
CHICAGO -- The word "mistake" seemed to get thrown around quite a bit when a new four-year contract extension was announced by the White Sox for Ozzie Guillen on Sept. 11. The criticism appeared especially sharp in the national media, based on Guillen "losing the team" during this rough 2007 campaign.
As he moves forward toward one of the most important offseasons of his managerial career, though, Guillen remains battered but unbowed by the pundits who believe he has lost his managerial touch.
"It don't really bother me for one reason," Guillen said, "I know what I do and I know what happens here. When you have national attention, people have their own opinion. I don't say they have the right or wrong way, but they have their opinion.
"When you are not around me and you don't know who I am or you don't know what I do every day, then it bothers me because now you are ignorant. If you are around me and you criticize me because you see this every day, day in and day out, then I can take that. I was never mad at any writers in Chicago who come here and see the real deal."
Guillen understands how he has been placed firmly on the hot seat in the mind of many, coming on the heels of the White Sox worst season since 1989. Guillen also isn't too humble to rightfully remind people of the 200 wins the White Sox posted during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, including the South Siders' 2005 run to the World Series title. It would be tough for Guillen to lose his managerial acumen in the course of just two seasons, even though he doesn't believe the championship earned him a free pass.
In regard to Guillen's ongoing dealing with his players, he has been a straight shooter from the time he was a Gold Glove shortstop for the White Sox right on through his tenure at the team's helm. But Guillen points out how nothing he says in the media hasn't been said to the player's face previously.
Ultimately, it's this frank, entertaining and often raw style exhibited by Guillen that brings about the doubters. Those doubts have not crept into Guillen's minds, though, nor the minds of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams.
"I could care less what people say," Guillen said. "I just worry about what my people here think of what I do. I care about what my players think and the front office people think. Everything else, I put aside.
"Kenny and Jerry know who the real Ozzie Guillen is, and I show people I'm not afraid to get fired. Maybe I don't have enough years or it's because I am the way I am. But I never say anything to anybody to make a point across. I make it because that's the way I feel."
Fit to return: The 20 home runs and 66 RBIs produced by Juan Uribe this season, pretty much on par with the shortstop's impressive production since joining the White Sox in 2004, serve as just part of the reason why his play has been so frustrating for Guillen.
"I'll be honest with you, Uribe can drive everyone crazy," Guillen said. "All of a sudden, the season is over, you look up and 20 home runs and 70 RBIs. ... To be honest with you, I don't see any shortstop better out there than Uribe.
"Maybe equal to him on the field, throwing and catching the ball. But I wish Uribe at least once found out how good he is, how dangerous he can be. The inconsistency, the strikeouts, he has to come in in better shape. So many things he can do, but so many things we need him to do to help us."
With the White Sox holding a $5 million option on Uribe for 2008, the talented shortstop has been a major point of interest and speculation over the past few weeks. Along with a hope for better bat control and Uribe improving on his .281 on-base percentage, Guillen also wants better conditioning from his burly middle infielder.
"He was in shape in Spring Training," Guillen said. "If someone is a friend of Uribe, tell him to lose some weight because he's going to be back to a utility player pretty soon. I just try to be honest and be a friend for him.
"When you're young and you're good, you can show up here weighing 350 pounds and play shortstop. But when you have kind of years like that and we're a losing team, you can give someone else some excuse.
"I'm just being honest with him," Guillen added. "I love the way he plays, there is no doubt about it. I like the way he goes about his business. He always comes out ready to play. He come in shape and I wish he be more consistent."
Heading toward pain: For the third time this season, Toby Hall got clipped in the head with an opposing hitter's backswing during Wednesday's game.
"It was a strike-three changeup," said Hall of Wednesday's glancing blow. "I've been hit on changeups because the ball is not in the dirt, but it's catchable. It's one of those tweeners.
"There's a runner on and I don't want to block a ball that's in between. The problem is when they swing through it and I'm going down to get it."
Hall has just two RBIs and a .193 average to show for his work this season, but he also knows a thing or two about enduring pain. The backup catcher has played all season with a problematic right shoulder, after separating it on a diving play at first base during Spring Training. It's a forgettable season Hall quickly would like to put behind him.
"I'm ready for New Year's," said Hall with a laugh. "It's been one of those years where you try to find out who has the voodoo doll of me."
Around the horn: Guillen said a firm decision concerning his coaching staff probably will come before the team's organizational meetings in mid-October. Only third-base coach Razor Shines and bullpen coach Mark Salas don't have a contract for the 2008 season. "We're going to figure out what kind of ballclub we're going to have next year, to see what kind of coaches I'm going to have," said Guillen, who added he talked with Williams on Thursday about some coaching matters. "That is the more important thing for me. But I'm happy with my coaching staff. No matter who leaves or who's staying, I'm pretty sure they are staying. I can tell you that. No matter who stays or who leaves, it is not their fault." ... White Sox legend Minnie Minoso threw out one of the first pitches on Thursday, with Guillen serving as the catcher. ... The White Sox entered Thursday night's action tied with Cleveland with nine complete games, second most in the American League.
On deck: Javier Vazquez (14-8, 3.79 ERA) makes his 32nd start of the season and third against Detroit to begin the final three-game series of the 2007 season on Friday at 7:11 p.m. CT. Vazquez has an 11-3 record with a 3.51 ERA over his last 17 starts. He will be opposed by Kenny Rogers (3-3, 4.26).
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.