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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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.

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A torrid two months at the plate helped Jose Abreu end what he found to be an extremely trying 2016 season with numbers close to his career norms.

But even though he finished with an .820 OPS and 100 RBIs for a third straight season, Abreu admits that 2016 was a season unlike any other he'd faced.

While he didn't disclose any theories for the cause of his lengthy struggles, the White Sox first baseman said Sunday he's pleased to have finished on a positive note and thinks that rebounding from those difficulties will only make him stronger. Abreu — who hit .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 695 plate appearances — is also a fan of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria and is equally impressed with the prospects the club acquired this winter.

"Yes, those were different challenges, especially in my mind," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I never in my life experienced some of the kind of struggles like I did last year. But that put me in a better position as a player, as a person too. I'm in a better position now for this season because I learned from the experience."

In spite of his struggles, Abreu was still a league average player through the first four months of the season. But the 2014 All-Star hardly resembled the player who produced a 153 OPS-plus over his first two seasons. His timing was off and Abreu — hitting .269/.325/.413 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs through July 30 — wasn't driving the ball as he typically had in his first two seasons, when he smacked 66 homers.

Abreu was lost at the plate and nobody could figure out why.

But after the arrival of his son, Dariel, who visited him for the first time since he moved to the United States, Abreu took off. He hit .338/.402/.568 the rest of the season with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 249 trips to the plate.

"Right after last season ended, I had my meeting at my house with my family, just to explain to them how the season was because they know about baseball," Abreu said. "But sometimes they can't register how the process is in a season as long as the major league season is. We talked about it. I explained to them all of the challenges, the problems I had during that season. Once we ended with that meeting, last season was in the past. We moved on and we were trying just to figure out things and how can I do better for this season."

Now in his fourth season in the majors, Abreu has a firm grasp on how the White Sox operate and likes some of the team's modifications. He likes how Renteria thoroughly communicates what he has in mind for the club. Abreu also enjoys being seen as one of the team's leaders and wouldn't mind being a mentor to prized prospect Yoan Moncada.

Now he hopes to carry over his strong finish to the start of the 2017 campaign.

"I'm working on it," Abreu said. "That's one of my goals. Everybody knows that at the beginning of last season, I wasn't performing good. It was kind of a surprise for me, too. But I'm in good shape right now and I believe I will be able to succeed."

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The leading candidate to be the team’s starting center fielder, Charlie Tilson has been temporarily shut down after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot.

The White Sox rookie said Sunday that he noticed the injury gradually building up before he decided to stop his workout on Friday and headed for the training room. An MRI performed Saturday on Tilson -- who is rehabbing from a torn left hamstring that ended his 2016 season early -- revealed the reaction, which isn’t severe as a stress fracture. Given Tilson previously had a stress fracture in his right foot, the White Sox said he'll be sidelined from impact work for 10 days, at which point he’d be re-evaluated.

“It started very minimal, and I tried to work through it a little bit, and by the time I addressed Herm, thankfully I caught it before it was anything that would keep me out for too long,” Tilson said. “It’s a minor thing, and it will give my other leg a chance to get stronger in the meantime, and hopefully we’ll turn this negative into a positive.”

Tilson wouldn’t be surprised if his injury is related to overcompensating for his left leg, which he has worked tirelessly to rehab since he suffered the injury on Aug. 2 and then had season-ending surgery. Manager Rick Renteria described it as an “irritation” in the area where Tilson suffered a stress fracture in 2013. In the interim, the White Sox will test some of their other options in camp, including veteran Peter Bourjos and minor leaguers Adam Engel and Jacob May, among others.

“But we don’t foresee it to be a long-term issue,” Renteria said. “By being able to shut him down now, it’ll be something he’ll be able to recover from. We’ll just readjust his timetable.”

Minor as Tilson and the White Sox say it is, the outfielder admitted he’s down about having to deal with it after the progress he’d made in his rehab.

The White Sox acquired the New Trier High School product from the St. Louis Cardinals last July in exchange for left-hander Zach Duke. Tilson was immediately called up as the White Sox intended to try him out in center field the rest of the season. But he suffered a season-ending injury in his major league debut while tracking down a fly ball and had surgery several days later.

Tilson made enough progress to be a full participant in a hitter’s camp at Camelback Ranch last month. Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tilson was a top candidate to take over as the club’s starting center fielder if he was healthy.

“I guess you could say I’m disappointed,” Tilson said. “But it’s a very minor setback and it’s part of the process. I had a major repair, and these things come up and hopefully we can minimize them as much as we can and hopefully this is the last one. But I’m just going to deal with it and do whatever I can to move forward.”