Guillen defends Latin players

Updated: March 12, 2010, 2:21 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen responded on Thursday to comments Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter made to USA Today about Latin players.

In the article, Hunter said: "People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.'

"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad."

Guillen provided a counterpoint.

"Sometimes I think you have to be careful what you say," Guillen said. "To me, he didn't hurt my feelings. I think he's a little bit behind saying we get potato chips. ... [Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis] Chapman was given a lot of money [six-year, $30.25 million contract].

"Major League Baseball looks for quality who can help them. They don't look for color. Latin players right now have more talent than anybody else."

Guillen also took exception to the notion that scouts are afraid to observe African-American players because it's too dangerous.

"He said they don't sign African-American kids because it's dangerous to scout them in their cities," Guillen said. "You go to Caracas [Venezuela] and see how dangerous it is to scout there."

Guillen said the best talent, and some of the highest-paid players in baseball, come from Latin America.

"We have better talent than they do," he said. "Maybe in the top-10 players in the game, we have seven Latinos."

Hunter tried to clarify what he meant on his Angels-sponsored blog.

"What troubles me most was the word 'impostors' appearing in reference to Latin-American players not being black players. It was the wrong word choice, and it definitely doesn't accurately reflect how I feel and who I am," Hunter wrote. "What I meant was they're not black players; they're Latin-American players. There is a difference culturally.

"But on the field, we're all brothers, no matter where we come from, and that's something I've always taken pride in: treating everybody the same, whether he's a superstar or a young kid breaking into the game. Where he was born and raised makes no difference."

Guillen said only people who worry about politically correct comments would be offended by Hunter's words.

"We come to this country with potato chips," Guillen said. "When we leave this country, we leave with a lot of money, we earn it.

"That's something we feel proud of."

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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