Sox Drawer: The Ozzie Guillen Interview

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Sox Drawer: The Ozzie Guillen Interview

Sunday, Mar. 7, 2010
Updated: 11:39 P.M.
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

When the White Sox season went off the tracks in 2009, there apparently wasn't much love in the air at 35th and Shields.

"Kenny (Williams) hated me. Everybody hated everyone. I hated Jerry(Reinsdorf). I hated my players. My players hated me," Guillen said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.

I was following up on comments the White Sox manager made in February to the Sun-Times, when Guillen first expressed the mutual disgust that apparently arose as the team was knocked out of contention. Ozzie said, "Kenny Williams hated me, I hated Kenny."

Now that he's added Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to the list, it sounds like they had quite the party going.

But as we know, Ozzie is a rare bird, especially when it comes to his English. He tends to say things for shock value. One week he might declare "I hate Kenny Williams." Next week it might be, "I hate air. I hate gravity."

That's Ozzie Guillen.

But over the last couple months, some have speculated that a rift has developed between manager and general manager, and that it could lead to the eventual firing of Guillen if this season goes south. Personally, I don't see it happening; both the season going in the tank and Williams feeling the need to let Ozzie go. Not even close.

And if it did?

"I told (Kenny), 'The day you're going to fire me, don't look at me as your friend," Guillen said. "You got a job to do. If you think I'm not doing my job, or you think your job is in a dangerous situation because of me, then you should find someone else to do a better job.'"

And this so-called clash between him and his GM?

"I don't care what people think whatever happened between me and Kenny," Guillen said. "I think a few people out there think we hate each other. We disagree with each other, but we're different types of people." He continued, "To me, it's more important to be on the same page with my GM. We got to be friends. It's like a marriage. You're not going to get along with your wife everyday. One day you're going look at her and go, 'Wow!'"

The team that Williams has constructed for 2010 is the kind that Guillen has always wanted, a roster focused on speed, defense, and pitching. When I brought this up to Williams, the Sox GM answered with a smile, "That's what (Ozzie) says, which begs the question, did I give him teams before that sucked or that he didn't want? And I've asked him this question, 'What did you mean by that actually?'"

But now that Guillen has all the tools, what happens if the roof caves in and he's unable to close the leak? Is he more accountable?

"No, we're in this together," Williams said. "If you do that, then the same things can be said when he has deferred to me and it hasn't worked out. Then he can point the finger and say, It's not me, it's that guy. We don't do that We sit down and try to come to decisions together. We're on the same page for the most part, so we're going to sink and swim together."

Guillen feels the same way about his closer Bobby Jenks.

After a difficult 2009 in which he battled injuries, gave up a career-high nine home runs, and heard his name mentioned in trade talk during the winter, Jenks came to camp having dropped two things: his weight(about 25 pounds) and alcohol.

"I'm more impressed about him giving up drinking," Guillen said. "You lose weight, that's his job. When you say 'I give up drinking," I have more respect for him than I did in the past, because I know that's not an easy thing to do. Hopefully he's a strong enough man to keep it the way it is right now."

Jenks has some experienced arms behind him in the pen. Williams traded for former closer J.J. Putz. There's also closer-in-the-making Matt Thornton. How much rope does Jenks have in 2010?

"He's got a lot of rope. He's my man," Guillen said. "I know we got a few people out there. But I'm going to give him the best opportunity he can until he can't anymore."

Note: Chuck's interview with Kenny Williams can be seen on CSNChicago.com on Tuesday.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."