Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: Ozzie Guillen Exclusive Interview

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Sox Drawer: Ozzie Guillen Exclusive Interview

Monday, October 5th
Theres a clubhouse filled with more boxes than humans.

Theres an outfield without any grass, just layers and layers of dirt.

This was the U.S. Cellular Field Ozzie Guillen entered on Monday morning, there to visit his office one final time before going home for the winter. His White Sox season over. Speculation for next season just beginning.

And he had a lot on his mind.

Fortunately, we brought along a camera and microphone.

Before his team took the field on Sunday, Guillen had two overwhelming thoughts.

One, he didnt want a front row seat to the Tigers celebrating a Central Division title. And two, he was concerned about one of his players who wouldnt, or should I say, couldnt even look at him.

That was Jermaine Dye.

Over the last two months, Guillen has repeatedly said that Dye is one of his all-time favorite players. But the soon-to-be-free agent likely will not be re-signed.

Ozzie knows it.

So does Jermaine.

And considering their tight relationship over the last four years, they were both having trouble coming to grips with the painful reality that Guillen was probably managing Dye for the very last time.

It was kind of hard when I was thinking about JD, Ozzie told Comcast SportsNet. And I dont think JD wanted to have eye contact with me. I dont think it was one of the hardest things I ever went through with the players, because I went through a lot, but when JD said to me before the game that this might be the last game Im going to play for you, I dont want to say that it was creepy, but kind of. I got a lot of feelings out there.

So in your gut, has Dye played his last game with the White Sox?

Yes, because our budget is going to be pretty tight. Thats the only reason. Do we want JD here? Of course. Kenny Williams loves him. Jerry Reinsdorf loves him. The fans ... hes one of my favorite players. The relationship between JD, his family, and myself was pretty special. And thats why it was kind of hard for me to maybe not see him again in a White Sox uniform.

Dye might be gone, but after Sundays season-ending defeat, Guillen was impressed by several players who are coming back.

Jake Peavy walked into Ozzies office, and even though it was completely out of his control, he apologized to Guillen for not being able to pitch when the Sox traded for him, and promised that hell be ready when Spring Training begins in February.

Paul Konerko also offered a mea culpa, telling Ozzie, sorry we let you down.

Gordon Beckham thanked his manager for giving him the opportunity to play 103 games, less than a year after being drafted by the White Sox out of the University of Georgia. Guillen said he told his rookie phenom, I didnt give you the opportunity, you did it yourself.

His players humility left a deep impression.

That was the first time Ive ever felt that way with the players because they expressed themselves, Guillen said. They expressed themselves about the way they felt about the season, and it's something I will talk to Kenny and Jerry Reinsdorf about what they say and youre always pleased by the way they were thinking.

Whos Guillens MVP?

We can talk about Scott Podsednik. But I think its DJ Carrasco. A lot of people say, 'Well the MVP is the person who has the best numbers.' Well, the managers MVP is the guy who helped him out the most. When I said in 2005 that Tadahito Iguchi was my MVP, people didnt believe me. Carrasco was picking garbage from everybody.

Guillen and Kenny Williams will speak frequently over the offseason. They had a 15-minute conversation inside the Sox lunchroom on Monday. Fans have a laundry list of players they want the Sox GM to sign for next year, as we saw by all of your comments here last week.

Sign Chone Figgins.
Trade for Carl Crawford.
Add Matt Holiday.
Deal Bobby Jenks.

Etc, etc, etc.

But when I asked Guillen if he could go to Kenny and say, I need one thing this offseason, what is it? he replied:

Sign Mark Kotsay.

But what about from the outside? What else do you need?

I dont have the title, but there are two things. If we sign Podsednik, then were almost set. If we dont sign Podsednik, then well need speed at the top of the lineup. A lot of people think about Chone Figgins. Well, Figgins is going to cost a lot of money. Behind Figgins there are going to be 30 teams. And when you have 30 teams, its like going fishing and there are 30 boats out there to catch one fish. Well, good luck.

And good luck to Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge, who struggled mightily at the plate this season, and will definitely have to improve if they hope to make the club next season. Guillen said he sent messages to both rookies.

They dont play the way they have to play," he said. "They struck out too much. Offensively, they want to play a big man game when theyre little. If they do that, theyre not going to go with me, because we need those guys to be better offensively than we had this year.

Probably the biggest surprise from our 25-minute interview was Guillens admission that he doesnt just answer fan e-mails, but that he has actually used some of your ideas in ballgames.

Said Ozzie, I put Carlos Quentin third in the lineup one time because we were desperate about something. One fan wrote it in, and I put him in third. I put A.J. Pierzynski batting second. Some idiot from Joilet. I said, Maybe this guy knows more than me. And we did. And we win with him!

Did you thank him?

Ozzie answered sarcastically, No, because I didnt want to give him the credit.
Part 2 of our conversation runs Tuesday at 6:30, 10:00 p.m. and midnight.

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

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USA TODAY

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

This one may sting a bit, White Sox fans.  

On Wednesday evening, former White Sox ace Chris Sale accomplished a feat that no other American League pitcher has since 1999. The current Red Sox left-hander whiffed his 300th batter of the season, becoming the first A.L. hurler since Pedro Martinez to do so. 

Sale reached the impressive milestone in a dominant eight-inning, 13-strikeout gem. Vintage. 

Overall on the season, he's posted a 2.75 ERA with opponents hitting a mere .203 against him. Before his postseason debut in October, Sale has a shot at leading two franchises in season strikeout totals: 

The consolation on the South Side is that the prized prospect acquired in the Sale blockbuster had a pretty nice night himself. Yoan Moncada drilled a two-run blast in Houston, his seventh since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte on July 19. 

The great trade debate wages on. 

Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

HOUSTON -- Yoan Moncada took Jose Abreu’s advice to switch to a lighter bat and the White Sox rookie has been on a tear ever since.

The veteran first baseman thought Moncada would benefit from a slightly smaller piece of lumber and purchased it. Moncada began to use the bat at the start of the team’s current 10-game road trip and has since produced the best stretch of his career. Moncada is hitting 432/.488/.649 with 16 hits, including a triple, two home runs, six RBIs and 11 runs scored in 37 plate appearances.

“I just thought he wasn’t using the bats for him to take advantage of his swing,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “These new bats have better balance with the weight and are a little shorter than the other ones. I just did it thinking of him taking advantage of his power, his hands and to feel more freedom in his swing.”

Neither Abreu nor the White Sox have wavered in their faith in Moncada since his promotion from Triple-A two months ago. Baseball’s top prospect flashed plenty of talent in spring training and further convinced them by showing a consistently good eye at the plate after arriving in the majors.

But while Moncada had his share of highlights early on, he still hadn’t begun to receive the desired results on a consistent basis. Abreu saw him missing his pitch from time to time and suggested that Moncada use a smaller bat.

Moncada previously a 34-inch, 32-ounce bat. The ones purchased by Abreu are 33 1/ 2-inches and 31 ounces. Moncada has said the bats have produced a more fluid swing and he feels like he has a stronger swing since.

[MORE: Top 10 storylines from the White Sox minor league season] 

Manager Rick Renteria thinks it’s a combination of the new bat and Moncada having a better understanding for how teams are approaching him at the plate.

“Lighter bats can help you manipulate the barrel a little more, keep you on the ball,” Renteria said. “You don’t think you have to force yourself to get out in front too much. You can allow the ball to travel and do what it does, so you can see it as much as possible. Just in general, the at-bats and the experience and the sequence of pitches he’s been seeing over time now, he’s starting to understand and get a feel for hitting in the big leagues.”

Abreu said his own bat size has varied during a red-hot second half depending upon how he feels. Moncada’s mentor started the season with a 34-inch, 32-ounce Albert Pujols-model bat, but also began to use the 33-inch, 33 1/2-ounce at the All-Star break.

Abreu has enjoyed watching his protégé have consistent success over the past nine days.

“I knew he had the talent,” Abreu said. “I never had a doubt about it. It was just a matter for him to get to know this process and to get to know the league and for him to use the proper tools to take advantage. We are just seeing what he’s capable of doing and it’s a good sign for him building for next season.”