Cuban native Ramirez forgives former manager Guillen

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Cuban native Ramirez forgives former manager Guillen

CLEVELAND - As Ozzie Guillen tried to explain his way out of another mess he created with his mouth, Chicago's new manager felt compassion for his predecessor.

Robin Ventura watched and wished the best for Guillen.

"It's a tough day for him," Ventura said Tuesday, hours after Guillen apologized in South Florida for comments lauding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, remarks that led some to call for his firing. "He's a friend, so it was not easy to watch. He looked sincere and meant it."

Ventura was Guillen's teammate for eight seasons in Chicago. This year, he replaced the outspoken manager, who led the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005 before leaving them after eight stormy seasons during which Guillen often made headlines with outrageous remarks.

Most of Chicago's players declined to talk about Guillen's situation.

One willing to talk was infielder Gordon Beckham, who said most White Sox players believe Guillen's true feelings did not come out in the Time magazine article in which he said he loves Castro and respects the retired Cuban leader for staying in power so long.

"You feel for Ozzie," said Beckham, who played three seasons for Guillen. "I think all of the guys in this clubhouse knew what he meant when he said it. It was like, this guy (Castro) has had people trying to get him, take a shot at him, and he's lasted 60 years. Sometimes Ozzie says more than he should."

Guillen's comments were particularly personal for White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, a Cuban. Still, he's ready to forgive his former manager.

"Apologizing is definitely a big first step," said Ramirez, who played for Cuba in the Athens Olympics. "Everyone has their opinion. But I also feel people should be forgiven. So if he's going to apologize, I feel that hopefully he'll be accepted."

The 30-year-old Ramirez left Cuba in 2007 and joined the White Sox in 2008.

"I would just say whatever his thoughts or comments are, those are Ozzie's comments," he said. "That's more on him. It's one of those (situations) that there are some people who like Castro, and there are some people who don't. You're in Miami, it's definitely a different thought frame. But that's his opinion, and it's not the same opinion I have."

Ventura, who was a surprise pick to take over in Chicago because he had never managed at any level, hopes to learn from Guillen's faux pas.

"I'm going to stick to just talking about baseball," Ventura said before the White Sox and Indians were postponed because of rain and cold weather.
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Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brett Lawrie isn't sore, he's just not yet correctly aligned.

Until that happens, the White Sox second baseman doesn't want to risk playing at full speed, which for him is nearly the equivalent of hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon.

Lawrie said Sunday he has been pleased with the progress made in returning from a series of leg injuries that wiped out the final 2 1/2 months of last season. But he also isn't quite ready and doesn't want to risk re-injuring himself until he feels total confidence.

"I've been very happy and I haven't really gone backwards and that's been key for me," Lawrie said. "I guess the biggest thing is being able to trust myself when I get out on the field and not have to worry about my body and just worry about the game. If I can't do that then I'm not going to go out there and do that. S once I can clear that stuff up, and it's in the near future.

"I just need to keep being positive and keep putting the work in every single day and I'll be OK."

Lawrie and Rick Renteria said the veteran has been his normal hyper since he reported to camp eight days ago. He'd been a full participant leading up to Saturday when he told Renteria he still didn't feel completely right. But Lawrie said he's just working out the "end kinks" to a trying period. Even though he's had a few tough days of late, Lawrie is trying to stay upbeat and power through.

"It's nothing that's grabbing at me or anything like that," Lawrie said. "I think it's just how everything is sitting and needs to be aligned, that's all.

"Not completely where I want to be and I want to be right where I want to be in order to get out on the field. This last part has just been tough but I'm just continuing to push through and I want to be out on the field and be 100 percent and just have to worry about baseball and not have to worry about this. Before I get out there I just want to make sure that everything is cleared up."